What an amazing day! So many talented chili cooks, and all deserving of this championship. Back in 2010, Ron Barnes called me on the phone while I sat in the champion's chair; however, this year he called me by my number! Thank goodness the elusive "black bubbles" appeared while I was cooking. GUAU! !Aqui vamos de nuevo!*

Start with the first, start with the finest, start with the family – where chili began. I met Clint Haggerty with Pendery's Spice Company in 2015. From the start, we were working on the Ghostown Chili recipe. I sampled practically every blend of powders Pendery's had. Once we found comple- mentary powders, the team was off and running. We had many, many big wins – Suzanne, Herman, TJ, Jennifer, even Ronda Haberer's Viva Terlingua first place. So many huge wins. However, many times Clint and I talked about the team needing one big signature win. I have so many people to be thankful for, but this championship is for Clint and Pendery's Spice Company. Thank you.

All competitive cooks know the desire and drive it takes to be a chili champion. In my opinion it all starts at home. I'd like to thank my wife Lori and our family for supporting me and enabling me to strive for these goals. I've been fortunate to achieve many milestones cooking chili, but the secret of my success is the beautiful, wonderful woman who married me. Thank you, Lori. I love you.

All my trips to Terlingua seem to start with Herman Everett. I can't thank him and his High Sierra staff enough. He has also become quite the chili cook. Herman has a couple of big wins, and I wish him continued success.

Jennifer Hansen joined the Ghostown Chili team from the onset and moved to Terlingua. She has been missed in North Texas but also has found a home in Terlingua. I'm so proud for her. Jennifer has amassed quite the resume cooking in southwest Texas. She is without a doubt the driving force behind Ghostown Chili. Everything she does is above and beyond. Jennifer is an exceptional person and a valued member of this team.

Suzanne Sweet has been a Ghostown girl from the start. Her "Terlingua Star" chili has competed and won many big competitions over the past few years. To see her on stage this year at TICC was an amazing moment for one of my favorite cooks and our team.

TJ Cannon and I go back to the Renegade days. She has accomplished so much in her chili career, and she is the only cook I fear. We often joke that when we stop cooking chili, we will join the circus.

It seems like Jim Ezell and I are always around something big, whether it's my 2010 win and sec- ond in 2011, Suzanne's Texas Open win in 2016, squeezed in between my two US National Open wins, and here we go again. Jim lives and bleeds CASI Red. Each honor he receives is well deserved. Jim is our logistics man on the Ghostown Chili team; keeping me and our team in check is often his biggest challenge. Everything he has done for me and my family is appreciated beyond words.

I had the humbling and solemn experience of attending the CASI Memorial Service. My Ghostown Chili team lost a member this past year. Lisa Six of Dallas, a very sweet and respectful person, passed away in August. I'd known her a few years, and her memory will continue to be a part of this team.

I'd also like to thank a few people who have inspired me over the years: Janice & Cliff Miller, Jenny & Jack Windsor, Brandy Reid & Jimmy Rather, Nancy & Dave Hewlett ... and no list can be complete without the 'Godfather' himself, Jerry Hunt. These people in different ways have been part of my success.

Finally, none of this would be possible without our wonderful sponsors. Thank you all for sup- porting this organization.

I'm looking forward to this next year and all the chances that I will have to represent CASI. I hope to see y'all somewhere down the chili trail.

Hell yeah! Tom Dozier