Photo Release -- Eckrich Announces Winner of "Smokin' Country Sing-Off"

LISLE, Ill., June 13, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Eckrich announced the winner of their "Smokin' Country Sing-Off" Friday evening on the main stage in Tootsie's Honkey Tonk Alley in Nashville, Tenn. Mike Mueller was crowned the winner and received $10,000 and will also have the opportunity to record his own single with Grammy-nominated producer, Dave Brainard.

Eckrich Announces Winner of "Smokin' Country Sing-Off"

A photo accompanying this release is available at

Mike was the last artist standing after winning one of three auditions held at Tootsie's World Famous Orchid Lounge and then the final competition against three other qualifiers. Mike just recently moved to Henderson, TN from Wisconsin and wowed the judges with his vocals and original song, "Summertime Buzz."

In second-place and receiving $5,000 was Chris Albright from Murfreesboro, TN; in third-place, winning $2,500, was Pat Beasley & Dave O'Connor from Smiths Grove, KY; and in fourth-place, winning $1,000, was Austin Anderson from Cedar Hill, TN.

Eckrich, a brand of Smithfield Foods and the makers of naturally hardwood smoked sausage and savory deli meats, is an integral part of the country music landscape. The brand is a current partner of one of today's most popular country music artists on the airwaves today, Randy Houser. In addition, they have supported many up-and-coming country music artists.

"You never know when or where the next star of country music will be found," said Chuck Gitkin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Smithfield Foods. "The 'Smokin' Country Sing-Off' provided a great opportunity for Eckrich to help the next great talent in Nashville take another step in their career. We congratulate our winner, Mike Mueller, and are looking forward to hearing his recorded single."

Brainard was honored to be a part of this process with Eckrich.

"Working with Eckrich on this contest was a pleasure," said Brainard. "The Country music industry is more competitive than ever and being able to help young, emerging artists have an opportunity to make some noise and start their careers means a lot to me. I can't wait to get in the studio with Mike Mueller and make some magic."

For more information about Eckrich please visit

About Eckrich

Founded by Peter Eckrich in 1894, Eckrich has a rich heritage starting from a small meat market in Fort Wayne, Ind. Through it all, Eckrich meats have been recognized for their great taste and supreme quality, craftsmanship, care and pride. For more information, visit

About Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Farmland®, Armour®, Cook's®, John Morrell®, Gwaltney®, Nathan's Famous®, Kretschmar®, Margherita®, Curly's®, Carando® and Healthy Ones®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit and

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.

CONTACT: Jeff Dennison Breaking Limits for Eckrich 2137 South Blvd., Suite 200 Charlotte, N.C. 28203 Direct: 704-766-9061 Cell: 704-252-3356 E-Mail:

Source:Smithfield Foods, Inc.