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Talk of the town: Comedian John Oliver pays for a billboard in Manitowoc for a bird in New Zealand

Posted at 6:17 PM, Nov 09, 2023
  • Comedian John Oliver has campained for the Pūteketeke bird to win New Zealand's Bird of the Century contest. He posted signs around the world but only one in America. That billboard is in Manitowoc.
  • Many locals came out to see the sign today. I talked with multiple people who said they were proud Manitowoc was getting publicity.
  • The voting ends on Sunday, November 12th. The link to vote can be found at the end of this article.

New Zealand’s Bird of the Century competition has gripped its talons into Manitowoc. Comedian John Oliver has put up signs across the world campaigning for his bird to win. But only one billboard is in America. And that billboard is in Manitowoc.
"I looked out there and there it was,” said local shop worker, Rick Couron

Local store owner Corleen Zoerb said, "It is really cool to have it here."

As I stood watch by the sign many people flocked to come see it.

"It's national news and we wanted to be a part of it,” said Ernie Harley. “It's a great story and lots of people are stopping."

The competition for bird of the century is put on by a company called Forest and Bird out of New Zealand.

No one in town knows for sure why Oliver picked Manitowoc but theories are swirling

"Maybe he just used a dart and hit the right spot," said Zoerb.

Regardless of why, the strategy is working.

I asked Couron if he was going to vote for the bird.

"Well I already did this morning, " he replied.

"I mean ostriches are cute but he's kind of cuter,” Zoerb said.

But to vote for Oliver’s bird I needed to find out one thing... how do you pronounce its name

After a thorough search, Dan Juchniewich got it right.

“It’s great publicity for the city and the area,” he said. “But, I have no idea why he picked Manitowoc.”

It is safe to say the bird gained some fans this week.

"It's a beautiful bird don't you think?", said Harley.

And as the only spot in America with Oliver’s billboard, the town couldn't be happier

"I sent my daughter a text this morning letting her know I was going to be here seeing a very famous spot in our backyard,” said Wayne Becker, who is also a big John Oliver fan.

To vote for the Pūteketeke, click here. Voting ends on Sunday, November 12th.