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Washington Mutual Celebrates Chicagoland Teachers at Giant Barbeque

Teacher Talent Competition, Free BBQ and Performances by Tim McGraw and Michelle Branch Highlight Festivities

CHICAGO, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM), the nation's leading retailer of consumer financial services, today hosted "Teacherpalooza: The World's Biggest Barbeque for the World's Greatest Teachers." More than 50,000 K-12 public school teachers, their families and the general public were invited to Hutchinson Field in Chicago's Grant Park for a day to celebrate Chicago's public school teachers.

Washington Mutual is seeking a new Guinness World Record(TM) for the "World's Largest Barbecue" at Teacherpalooza. The current record is 44,158 people (Sydney, Australia in 1993). A final count on attendees will be available at the barbeque*.

"Chicago loves a good barbeque and it's a great way to bring tens of thousands of people together to celebrate Chicago's teachers and break a world record while we're at it," said Tony Manisco, Washington Mutual's senior vice president and group manager of retail banking in Illinois.

The Spotlight on Teachers(TM) talent competition was the highlight of the day. Thirty teacher acts -- solo and ensemble -- showcased their talents on three stages in a variety of acts ranging from a solo vocalist singing "All That Jazz" from the hit musical Chicago to a hip-hop dance group. Three winners were chosen via audience applause meters and the schools represented by each winning act received a $15,000. In addition to the $15,000 grants awarded to winners of the talent competition, school districts turning out the largest percentage of attendance for the event received grants of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000*. Throughout the day, Washington Mutual distributed over $60,000 in gifts and grants to teachers and the schools they represent.

"Washington Mutual is committed to the communities in which we do business, specifically to teachers and education. The Spotlight on Teachers talent competition is a great way for Washington Mutual to extend its support and appreciation to the thousands of hard-working teachers across Chicagoland, and it's a chance for teachers to showcase their talents and help their schools," said Manisco.

Attendees at the barbeque were also treated to a live concert from record-breaking artist Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors, Grammy Award-winner Michelle Branch, Billboard Latin Music Award-winners Los Hombres Calientes featuring Bill Summers and Irvin Mayfield, and American Idol finalist Trenyce.

Eight food stations were set up throughout Hutchinson Field where a wide variety of free barbeque was served including Asian, Latin, World Beat, Vegetarian, Chicago-style, Texas-style, Midwest, and All-American.

Washington Mutual, a leading mortgage lender in Illinois, introduced its unique brand of retail banking to Chicagoans when it opened 28 locations in June 2003. In August the organization opened 32 additional retail banking stores. With its entrance into the Chicago area consumer banking market, the organization brings its commitment to the community through grants and other assistance with an emphasis on K-12 public education and affordable housing. Washington Mutual hosted an Affordable Housing Fair at the barbeque, where more than a dozen non-profit organizations provided attendees with information on affordable homeownership programs.

Washington Mutual also hosted a Teacher Pavilion at the barbeque that featured product giveaways, information on Washington Mutual financial products just for teachers, and a chance for teachers to enter a random drawing for a $10,000 Washington Mutual Free Checking account, a Spring Break Getaway or a Palm(TM) device.

Illinois-based Weber-Stephen Products Company, the number one authority on grills and grilling information and manufacturer of the iconic Weber(R) kettle grill, was the event's Official Grill Sponsor. Weber Grill Restaurants staged four, 45-minute grilling demonstrations with food samplings headed by a team of its chefs in the Weber Grill Restaurant Tent. Weber also showcased its full line of charcoal, gas grills and grilling accessories in the Weber Product Tent. Other Teacherpalooza sponsors included WMAQ TV/NBC Channel 5, Kingsford Charcoal and KC Masterpiece.

* Information on the official count of attendees will be available at the media tent the afternoon of the barbeque. The final winners of the Spotlight on Teachers talent competition will be announced at the barbeque. Information on the school districts turning out the largest percentage of attendees will be available Friday, October 24 by calling one of the below phone numbers. About Washington Mutual

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual, Inc. (NYSE: WM) is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and small businesses. At June 30, 2003, Washington Mutual, Inc. and its subsidiaries had assets of $283.20 billion. Washington Mutual, Inc., through its subsidiaries, currently operates more than 2,650 consumer banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking, consumer finance and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual, Inc.'s press releases are available at www.wamu.com.

All trademarks are used for the benefit of their respective companies.

SOURCE: Washington Mutual 10/18/2003

CONTACT: Tara Williams of Washington Mutual, +1-646-521-3320, or cell, +1-973-280-1976, or tara.williams@wamu.net; or Katie Hutchinson of Jasculca/Terman and Associates, +1-312-573-5506, or +1-773-544-1983, or katie_hutchinson@jtpr.com, for Washington Mutual

Web site: http://www.wamu.com