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A day in the life of a celebrity pig: Even in defeat, Hamilton scores ... many treats

The Carolina Hurricanes’ 90-pound (and counting) good luck charm did his very best Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough to help the Canes overcome the freaky good work of Boston Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask. (The Canes are 6 and 1 in the playoffs when Hamilton is in attendance — still a pretty darn good record.)

Hamilton the Pig started his official day for the Canes three hours before the puck dropped for Tuesday’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Raleigh. He visited tailgaters at PNC Arena and stood patiently for countless photos with adoring fans of all ages. Wherever the celebrity pig’s wagon rolled, crowds formed and camera phones appeared. He was even interviewed by hockey legend Jeremy Roenick for a live spot on NBC Sports Network.

Inside the PNC Arena, it was no different. Adoring fans flocked to Hamilton. Kids squealed with excitement, and grown men and women chased his wagon begging for just one moment for a photo. In the tunnel just before the game, Hamilton looked like a seasoned TV pro in a live segment on Canada’s Sportsnet with Kyle Bukauskas.

The most famous pig in North Carolina (he has nearly 4,000 Instagram followers now) also met some of the most famous sports celebrities in the nation, and he was unfazed by all the hobnobbing. He’s the same humble pig he always was.

We hung out with Hamilton from start to finish Tuesday (find the tweet storm at twitter.com/brookecain), and we’re lucky to have the following snapshot of the day and the game from his perspective.

Game Day begins

4 p.m.: I just had a bath and now they’re getting my wagon out ... and here’s the bandana. This means one thing: I am going to eat so many carrots tonight.

5 p.m.: This is the best parking lot in town. My aunts and uncles and cousins are here and everywhere I roll, snacks snacks snacks. Here are two little boys with a carrot for me. Carrot-carrying boys are my favorite kinds of boys.

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Brothers Bryce (left), 4, and Landon, 7, of Cary feed a carrot to Hamilton the Pig before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

5:30 p.m.: Now we’re rolling. <Happy squeaks.> Excitement in the air and the breeze in my hair. Why are we stopping already? Oh, more people. Yes, you may take a photo. Do I get a treat? No? That’s rude.

5:51 p.m.: My first Cheerio of the day! This is the business. I will stand for photos all day, as long as there are treats involved. GO CANES!

6 p.m.: Is that a line? How long is that line? Is that line growing? Where are all these people coming from?

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“Pig Dad” Kyle Eckenrode pulls Hamilton the Pig around the PNC Arena before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

6:10 p.m.: The line. It grows. The Cheerios. They come.

6:15 p.m.: Here’s my favorite fan — the nice man who brings me a whole bag of carrots to every game. Take note: This is how you treat a celebrity pig.

6:20 p.m.: Rolling again. Oh, I recognize these tailgaters: players’ families. POTATO CHIPS! Barbecued! Mom doesn’t usually allow this, so hurry!

6:45 p.m.: Why is this Bruins fan trying to touch me? No sir, move along.

6:47 p.m.: I just got a whole carrot — full size! Probably my reward for not biting that Bruin.

7 p.m.: Rolling again -- or at least trying. My fans are the best. This must be what it’s like to be George Clooney. Oh hey, I heard he had a pig too!

7:05 p.m.: Oh, my sweet Caroline! I finally meet my crush! Swoon. My pig heart is beating so fast. She and Stormy are “just friends,” she says. I know she loves me too.

7:10 p.m.: This crowd is no joke. Give me some space, people. And some carrots. Oh wow, these kids are cute. There’s another Bruin. Go away. Thank you. Cheerios? Don’t mind if I do.

The greatest day ever!

7:30 p.m.: Well, this looks official. These are big cameras. Wait, what?This woman has a picture of me on her leg. Why!? Now we’re on television. Dad just said the man interviewing me is one of the greatest American hockey players ever. I don’t know about that, but he knows his way around a carrot.

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NHL legend Jeremy Roenick interviews Hamilton the Pig for NBC Sports Network before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

7:50 p.m.: Out of the wagon and walking around in the grass. Perfect timing, I needed a bathroom break. OMG, someone dropped all these french fries on the ground! This is the greatest day ever.

8 p.m.: I think I spent too long eating those fries because now we’re running through this building. My wagon is going so fast! This is exhilarating. I’m working up an appetite.

8:10 p.m.: In the tunnel. It’s loud and cold but so exciting. The team just ran by me to the ice. I love those guys. An interview with SportsNet? Sure. Thanks for the towel. Now we can chill here and watch the game. Go Canes!

8:25 p.m.: Nope, on the go again! Sounds like we’re going to a suite to meet some more of my fans. Oh, this feels fancy. This man patting my head — they call him Mr. Karmanos — he seems nice.

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Pete Karmanos, minority owner in the Carolina Hurricanes, meets Hamilton at Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

8:35 p.m.: Dad is excited because now we’re visiting someone named Erik Cole. He was on the 2006 Hurricanes Stanley Cup-winning team, Dad says. He must also like pigs a lot because he hugged me and tried to feed me a carrot from his mouth. I think we are best friends now.

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Erik Cole, member of the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes, meets Hamilton at Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

9 p.m.: We just left my friend Erik. I miss him already. Now we’re in a really big suite, but these guys are nice, too. Dad says these are Carolina Panthers. That’s cool, I like cats. Hanging out with Julius Peppers, who is so tall I can hardly see his face from down here, and Luke Kuechly and KK Short and Christian McCaffrey and Mario Addison. Wow. You know who else is nice? This David Tepper person. I wonder if he needs a lucky pig for his football team? And now I’m chilling with Tom Dundon, who Dad says owns the Hurricanes. Love your work, Tom. This is exciting and everything, but I’m not currently getting carrots so I’d like to file a complaint.

9:15 p.m: Oh hi, Rasheed Wallace.

Trying to bring mojo

9:25 p.m.: Now we’re back in the tunnel by the ice. And it’s a good thing because the boys need some mojo.

9:40 p.m.: Score!!! We scored! I can tell because this place just went crazy, and it’s so loud! Dad is covering my ears with his hands and rubbing my head, but I’m really getting used to the noise.

9:45 p.m.: That was exhausting. Time for a nap. Blankie, please.

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Hamilton the Pig takes a break during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

10:10 p.m.: The third period is about to start and the guys just ran by me in the tunnel again. Dougie Hamilton patted me for good luck. I think I’ll nap for a while.

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Carolina Hurricanes mascot Stormy the Pig watches the game with Hamilton the Pig at Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals game against the Boston Bruins in Raleigh, May 14, 2019. Brooke Cain bcain@newsobserver.com

10:50 p.m.: I don’t understand. We didn’t win? We always win. This is a strange feeling. I feel ... sad? Oh, Mom just dumped a whole baggie of Cheerios in my wagon. Everything will be OK!

11 p.m.: We’re rolling through the halls again and people are yelling hellos and snapping photos. Doesn’t everyone already have my photo by now? An angel just appeared from heaven (or the kitchen?) with a beautiful plate of fruit for me to take home. ARE THOSE RASPBERRIES? Oh we’re sharing an elevator with Rasheed Wallace. I hope he doesn’t get starstruck easily.

11:10 p.m.: Another TV appearance? It’s past my bedtime, people. I’d like to talk to my agent. Hey, I need to get an agent. Are those grapes? OK, I’ll sit here awhile longer. The camera does love me.

12:30 a.m.: Finally home. What a night. I’ll be sleeping in tomorrow so don’t even think about waking me up early. Unless you have those raspberries handy.

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Brooke Cain is a North Carolina native who has worked at The News & Observer for more than 20 years. She writes about TV and local media for the Happiness is a Warm TV blog, and answers CuriousNC questions for readers.
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