Only in New Orleans: Saints player tackles lemonade contest

By Annette Sisco

Community news editor

Malcolm Jenkins is a 6-foot, 200-pound defensive back who hits hard every week for the New Orleans Saints.

And he enjoys a chilled glass of lemonade with a garnish of fresh mint and a slice of kiwi.

This is just a little something I learned Saturday, when Jenkins and I helped judge a lemonade contest at the Aubudon Zoo. About 40 kids showed up lugging pitchers and coolers full of beverages.

The zoo, the Junior League of New Orleans and local businesses sponsored the contest in advance of this Saturday’s Lemonade Day, which encourages children to be entrepreneurs via the time-honored drink stand.

His stint as a lemonade maven fits in well with Jenkins’ other off-the-field pursuits.

The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation supports programs for young people’s character development, leadership, education, life skills, health and recreation.

Other judges that day were WQUE disc jockey Wayne Benjamin Jr.; Kristen Girault, Miss Louisiana USA; and Brandy Whisnant, of the Junior League.

As a newbie, I had no idea that lemonade could come in so many varieties. We tried drinks tinted red with raspberries or strawberries, with or without pulp and sweetened with honey as well as sugar.

And — shades of wine country — there were spit cups. It was a nice thought, but since there was a famous NFL player six feet away, I declined.

After about 10 samples, Miss Louisiana USA was getting a stomachache, and she wasn’t the only one, but we didn’t have far to look for an example of toughness. We pressed on.

Jenkins cheerfully posed for photos with everyone who asked, signed jerseys and chatted.

The player told me he thought the Saints did well in the draft, picking up another safety and an athletic offensive guard.

“We got pretty much everything we needed,” he said.

“I’m excited. We’re happy to have Sean (Payton, the coach) back.”

Showing his accustomed determination, Jenkins was all business as we sampled beverages. But when third-place winner DeJuene Richardson politely commandeered the microphone for a well-rehearsed acceptance speech (“First, I’d like to thank my mother and father ...”) the player broke up, laughing and clapping.

Other winners were Zoe Carter, who came in first with her kiwi concoction; and Alexia Turner, second.

Football season is still a couple of months away, but Saints workouts started two weeks ago.

“It’s nice to be back around the team,” Jenkins said.

It’s wonderful to have them back. I’ll drink 40 lemonades to that.

Annette Sisco is community news editor. She can be reached at (504) 432-9257 or asisco@theadvocate.com.