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Richland Center Marine Bachelor of the Year?

An area Marine who was injured in Iraq is up for a big award, but it's not for his service. Cosmopolitan magazine is taking his story nationwide. Each year Cosmo has a contest to find the hottest bachelors in the country and it just so happens that Richland Center is home to one of the lucky 50 finalists.

Click on the above link for a news video interview with Neil.

Reporter: Erin Koskovich
Email Address: ekoskovich@nbc15.com

Meet Neil Schalk and he seems like your typical Wisconsin guy. He likes to hunt, he's an athlete, and a college student. However, Neil is also a big brother and he's very close to his sister, Natalee. "We're really close. I don't know any brother and sister that are as close as we are," said Neil.

However, recently a little sisterly love from Natalee ended up putting Neil in the spotlight. Natalee saw a plea in Cosmo magazine to find the best looking bachelors in the nation. Natalee decided her brother needed to be featured so she wrote up a little something and sent it in. A couple weeks later, Neil got a call. "I was surprised. I didn't think anything of it," Neil said.

Neil was named Wisconsin's bachelor of the year by Cosmo. He's one of 50 bachelors vying for Cosmopolitan magazine's ultimate title of "Bachelor of the Year". "They sent us e-mails with interviews and they wanted, of course, more pictures. All kinds of questions. Crazy stuff," smiled Neil.

Neil sent it all in and is now featured on Cosmos website. "The online voting is going on right now," said Neil.

The voting kicked off Tuesday and will go through Thursday, October 11th. The entire nation is voting for their favorite bachelor, but Neil is hoping they'll see something unique about him. He's an avid runner and a college student, but he's got something most the other guys probably don't have. "Probably the fact that I have a purple heart probably makes me stand out a little bit," explained Neil.

The 21 year old just finished a stint with the Marines. He served in Iraq where he earned his purple heart. "I got hit by a roadside bomb because I was a gunner on top of a Humvee and a bunch of shrapnel hit me. I lost a third of this hand (right) and had a big hole blown in this hand (left). It really doesn't work anymore. I think, maybe... I don't know, none of those other guys probably have that," said Neil.

His fellow Marines are rallying behind him. His profile and story is posted on www.marineparents.com His family is also hoping he'll win. If he does he will have a huge spread on him in Cosmo and also be awarded $10,000. If he wins, Neil says he's going to share the winnings with his sister, who's a student at UW-Stout. "My sister and I are going to study abroad in New Zealand next semester. So, actually, I would give half the 10 grand to her and use the other half for that trip," Neil explained.

On October 18th Cosmo is flying Neil and the other men to New York for a bachelor party and that's where the winner will be announced.

Again, you can vote for Neil through Thursday: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/hot-guys/bachelors/