mustache

David Axelrod shaves off 40-year-old mustache for epilepsy

Dec. 7, 2012 at 9:01 AM ET

President Obama's senior strategist David Axelrod had to have a stiff upper lip to handle Republican criticism during the election. But now, for the first time, the world can actually see it.

Settling a bet to raise more than $1 million for epilepsy research, Axelrod shaved off his signature gray mustache live on TODAY Friday. The money will go to the epilepsy nonprofit run by his wife, Susan. (The couple’s daughter, Lauren, suffers from epilepsy.)

“There are people who have lost a lot more than to a mustache to epilepsy – 50,000 people a year lose their lives,” Axelrod said on the set of msnbc's "Morning Joe," where he was joined by his wife, Susan, and "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. He spoke as a professional clipped his whiskers with an electric clipper before taking a straight razor to them.

Axelrod originally told Scarborough he would shave off his mustache if President Obama lost Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania in the November election. The president ended up carrying those states, but Axelrod decided to carry his bet further by trying to raise $1 million for the organization, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy.

Early donors included President Obama and Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks basketball team owner, who contributed $200,000. George  Clooney, Tom Hanks and other celebrities also gave to the cause, as did Donald Trump, who pitched in $100,000.

“It took David’s mustache to bring Donald Trump and President Obama together,” Willie Geist noted.  

Axelrod acknowledged he had some serious nerves about letting go of his mustache, which he’s worn for four decades.

 “I’ve been staring at it for 40 years, Savannah. I’m very attached to it,” Axelrod told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie. “I was up all night, to be honest with you. It’s a little unsettling, but like I said, people have lost a lot more than a mustache.”

He also said he couldn't be responsible what kind of crumbs might be found in its remains. 

"This is like an archaeological dig," he quipped.  

TODAY /
David Axelrod, before and after.
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