Idol Reject Hung Crowned as Artichoke King

Off-key pop idol William Hung has something new to crow about: He's being crowned "Artichoke King" in the small city that calls itself "artichoke capital of the world."

Hung, 23, the earnest crooner who butchered Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" tune on "American Idol," will ride in a parade Sunday and perform new versions of the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA" and the Billy Ray Cyrus line-dancing anthem "Achy Breaky Heart."

Marilyn Monroe was the first "Artichoke Queen" when she was selected in 1947.

The Castroville Artichoke Festival features an artichoke eating contest, music and plenty of artichokes for sale.

Awarding the reality TV reject-turned-recording artist the title was an attention-gaining gimmick, said Cheryl Della-Mora, the festival's arts and crafts director.

"We've already gotten a lot of exposure from it," she said.

Heavy spring rains dampened artichoke production by as much as 20 percent, but local growers said there will be more than enough.

Growers in Monterey County sold more than $48 million worth of artichokes in 2004, the latest year for which data is available.