The Hurricanes won’t be without one of their key contributors — a real grinder who isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty — when they take on the Capitals in Game 7. Hamilton, the 90-pound miniature potbelly pig who has become the ultimate good-luck charm for Carolina during its first postseason appearance in a decade, apparently was in Washington on Wednesday evening, after his owner spent the day debating a road trip to D.C.
“D.C.’s making this really tough on us,” Hurricanes fan Kyle Eckenrode said during an interview on Raleigh’s “Bob and the Showgram” radio show. “ . . . The team emailed me and said they will not allow him in the arena tonight. I think they are scared of the pig. We’ve got them rattled."
By Wednesday evening, the pig’s Instagram account showed what appeared to be Hamilton outside the Capitol Building. “Guess who made it!” read the caption, presumably not written by the pig.
Eckenrode and his fiancee, Karoline Briggs, adopted Hamilton when he was a six-week-old piglet nearly two years ago. Before Games 3 and 4 of the Hurricanes’ first-round series with Washington, Eckenrode, who lives about a mile from PNC Arena, brought Hamilton to mingle with tailgaters outside the venue. Carolina won both games, and when the series returned to Raleigh for Game 6, the Hurricanes invited the lucky swine inside the arena to meet and greet fans.
After Carolina staved off elimination with a 5-2 win on Monday, another fan started a petition to cover the expenses for Eckenrode to bring Hamilton to Capital One Arena for Game 7. Eckenrode said he was open to the idea of traveling with his pig, who sleeps in a laundry basket during their occasional two-hour trips to North Carolina’s Topsail Beach, but he was apprehensive about the reception Hamilton might receive in D.C.
“I don’t really know Caps fans that well,” Eckenrode said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “My worry is that I’m going to get up there and people are going to yell and throw bacon at him or something like that. I’d hate for that to happen, because he is a creature. Pigs are really emotional, and he’s my pet. I don’t want him not trusting me anymore.”
Indeed, several Capitals fans reacted to the news that Hamilton might be coming to the District by tweeting GIFs of pig roasts and bacon, threatening to eat him and recommending that Eckenrode pay a visit to Hill Country Barbecue and Federalist Pig while in town.
Bacon-loving Capitals fans weren’t the only deterrent, however. Capital One Arena has a strict policy that prohibits animals inside the arena, with the exception of trained service animals.
“The only animals allowed inside our facility are service animals for patrons with disabilities,” a Capitals spokeswoman said when asked specifically about Eckenrode’s interest in bringing Hamilton to Game 7.
The team has been consistent in enforcing the policy; last year, Ovie the Bulldog, who traveled to D.C. from California with his owner during the Stanley Cup finals, was denied admittance to the watch party inside Capital One Arena for Game 2.
Furthermore, the D.C. Code prohibits anyone from bringing a pig into the District without an exotic animals permit, which typically takes about a week to obtain, according to a spokeswoman with the D.C. Health Department. D.C. also has rules that prohibit certain types of hoofed animals on the streets at certain times, so there’s no guarantee such a permit would be granted. The spokeswoman said a pig in D.C. without the proper credentials could be confiscated by animal control.
“Raleigh’s pretty forgiving,” Eckenrode said. “You can have a pig up to 100 pounds inside the city limits. He’s big, but he’s controllable.”
During his interview on G105′s “Bob and the Showgram,” Eckenrode sounded resigned to remaining in Raleigh for Game 7.
“We’ve been asking people to post on [Hamilton’s] Instagram account where they’ll be watching,” he said. “We’re going to try to hit as many as we can.”
A couple of hours later, Eckenrode apparently had a change of heart. “UPDATE: We’re headed to D.C.!!!” he wrote on Instagram.
“Fear the pig, bro!” Eckenrode said when reached by phone and asked whether he was actually making the trip. “We might be. You’ll have to find out. We’re working on it.”
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