One year on the Wienermobile: The life of a Wisconsin hotdogger

Benish poses with her wheels during a stop in Madison, April 2024

By Christina Lorey

May 1, 2024

20,000+ miles. 16 states. 40+ cities. 12 months.

Hotdogger Samantha Benish has been hard at work since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the spring of 2023. Her office? The 27-foot-long Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!

Hotdogging is a surprisingly “hot job.” Applicants have a better chance of getting into Harvard than becoming a Hotdogger. (While the Ivy League school accepts 4% of applicants, Oscar Mayer accepts just 1%.)

Benish is one of 12 “Hotdoggers” currently under a one-year contract to promote the Wisconsin-based meat brand through social media posts and personal interactions. And it’s a good thing most hotdoggers consider the experience “priceless,” because the role only pays about $36,000/year.

We recently caught up with Benish as she rolled through familiar stomping grounds—her college town of Madison—to see what a week in the life of a hotdogger is really like!

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What time does your workday start?

On a typical Monday, we start at 8:00 a.m. Mondays are “drive days”, where we head to a new city – anywhere from three to 10 hours away!

Our event days are normally Thursdays through Sundays. When we start depends on the event. Sometimes, we’re at a Walmart grand opening at 7:30 a.m. Other times, we’re loading into a parade lineup at 8:00 p.m. There is no “set” schedule with the Wienermobile; it all boils down to the event.

One year on the Wienermobile: The life of a Wisconsin hotdogger

How many miles do you average each week?

We typically drive 500 miles. This fluctuates, of course, based on how far our hotel is from the event, where we decide to eat, etc.

How do you determine where to go?

We receive around 10,000 requests for the Wienermobile to appear at events across the US, so we have a coordinator who vets those and builds our touring schedule. I’m assigned to the Midwest, central, and southeastern US.

Some days, we get to plan our own events, which is very fun. In St. Louis, for example, I attended a Basset Hound “Meat Up” at a local VFW hall!

Roughly how many days do you spend in any given city?

About a week, but I’ve stayed in cities as short as a weekend and as long as two weeks. It depends on what’s going on!

One year on the Wienermobile: The life of a Wisconsin hotdogger

What do you do on weekends?

Our “weekends” typically fall on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, our “off days.” I love to visit local museums, go for walks, lay by the pool, attend professional sporting events, go shopping, try a new restaurant… the possibilities are endless! I also enjoy chatting with locals to get a lay of the land.

Besides Madison, what’s been your favorite city?

That’s a tough question! The state of Tennessee has been memorable, specifically Chattanooga. We visited during the week of Halloween and were able to attend an event in the local zoo. That’s right — we drove the Wienermobile through a back entrance and parked right next to the spider exhibit. It was so cool!

One year on the Wienermobile: The life of a Wisconsin hotdogger

Which city was most excited to see the Wienermobile?

One of the best weeks on the road was bringing the Wienermobile to my small Wisconsin hometown. Nelson has a population of around 300 people and is nestled right along the Mississippi River Valley.

Needless to say, the Wienermobile had never been within 50 miles of our city lines! The Wienermobile and I were the talk of the town. I was able to share such a big part of my life with the people who raised me, and it was extremely, extremely special.

What’s next?

My tour with the Wienermobile ends on June 2, when I will become “expired meat.” I will never again be able to drive the Wienermobile, but I’ll definitely continue the legacy of spreading smiles wherever I go!

As for what’s next, I’ve been offered a number of jobs in different industries – everything from broadcast journalism to sales! However, I’m keeping my options open and plan on enjoying a Wisconsin summer with friends and family first.

MORE: The Life of a Road ‘Dog’ – Benish’s First Months on the Wienermobile

One year on the Wienermobile: The life of a Wisconsin hotdogger

Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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