Leeloo takes first place in SalsaFest Chihuahua races

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Leeloo on the right just edged out Corndog for the SalsaFest 2022 Chihuahua Races championship.

By Jon Johnson


SAFFORD – It’s official, the first winner in the record books for the 2022 Sweet 16 SalsaFest is “Leeloo” as the fastest chihuahua in town.

Owners Matthew and Adi Scott are longtime SalsaFest attendees but this was the first time they raced their pet chihuahua Leeloo, 2. The dog is named after the character Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat (A.K.A “Leeloo”) from the movie The Fifth Element. In the movie, Leeloo is one of the Supreme Beings of the Universe. She was sent to Earth in corporeal form to become the Fifth Element, the final piece of a powerful weapon to destroy the Great Evil.

Jon Johnson Video/Gila Herald

“She loves her mom very much,” Matthew said. “We didn’t even train very much for this. We just practiced throwing the ball in the yard; throwing the ball in the field and she goes tearing on after it. That’s about the secret of it all, really.”

Chris Gibbs with the Safford Lions Club emceed the event, which featured special announcer Kirsten Engel, a candidate for our district’s Representative in the House.

“I think what we need in Congress is a proclamation that this race will be permanent,” Engel said.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Chris Gibbs, left, introduces congressional candidate Kirsten Engel who was a guest announcer for the dog races.

Leeloo had a misstep early on in the event and had to win five straight races, including beating previously undefeated Corndog twice in a row to take home the championship.

“She just loves me,” Adi said. “I treat her really good.”

Jon Johnson Photo: Matthew and Adi Scott pose with their fast chihuahua Leeloo.