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Charlotte 49ers’ AD grew a beard. Here’s how booster club got boost from the whiskers.

Charlotte 49ers athletics director Mike Hill and wife Jessica James-Hill.
Charlotte 49ers athletics director Mike Hill and wife Jessica James-Hill. Jessica James-Hill.

Charlotte 49ers athletics director Mike Hill is keeping the beard — for now — and as a result the 49ers’ booster club has a few thousand extra dollars in its coffers.

All thanks to Hill’s new wife and the power of Twitter.

First, some background: Hill and Jessica James-Hill were married this summer, a few months after he was named the 49ers’ athletics director. While honeymooning in Ireland and Scotland, the normally cleanshaven Hill elected not to use his razor. A photo of the newlyweds reached UNC Charlotte’s main Twitter account, which sent it out.

Ross Smith, who runs a 49ers recruiting Twitter account, saw the photo and thought Hill looked a little like Charlotte’s Norm The Niner mascot, tweeting:

“I hope @rmikehill brings the beard back with him from his honeymoon. @jejames87, can we make that happen? He can spotlight for Norm when necessary.”

James-Hill saw Smith’s Tweet and responded:

“He said he’s planning to shave it off. I’m sure there’s something the #NinerNation can do to persuade him otherwise! Competition? If 49 people give $49 to the @49er_Club (attention: #BeardFund) in the next two weeks he’ll keep it? I’m spitballing here but let’s go with it?”

James-Hill’s challenge took off around Niner Nation. A hashtag, of course — #BeardFund — was born. Earlier this week, the goal was reached: 62 49ers fans ended up donating $3,829 to the UNC Charlotte Athletic Foundation. That averages to more than $49 per donor (some obviously gave more), and exceeded the goal of $2,401.

Hill says he’ll keep the beard through mid-October.

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