Everybody knows the famous Punxsutawney Phil, the Seer of Seers, the Prognosticator of Prognosticators, who emerges from his stump every February 2 to tell the world whether spring will start promptly on March 20, or if winter will last six more weeks. However, in 2004, a rival emerged, hoping to usurp Phil's fame and renown. That challenger was Gus, The Second-Most Famous Groundhog in Pennsylvania.
Gus made his debut in a televised advert for the Pennsylvania Lottery's then-newest instant-win scratch-off ticket game, "Keep On Scratchin'", where up to $5,000 was awarded if the number underneath any of the five groundhogs matched the number underneath the wad of bills on the ticket. In that ad, a woman not unlike the heroine of many a B-grade horror movie was frightened to hear a scratching noise coming from her attic, which she foolishly decided to investigate. Fortunately for her, her attic was not serving as the lair of a maniacal axe-murderer, but was simply an everyday clandestine gambling den, where Gus was busy scratching off his lottery tickets. Gus then introduced himself, and urgerd her and all Pennsylvanians over the age of 18 to "Keep on scratchin'!"
Since then, Gus has appeared at the beginning of every month—making him twelve times as industrious as that shiftless, good-for-nothing Phil—in a variety of situations, introducing new scratch-off ticket games for the PA Lottery. And while Phil may be better-known worldwide, Gus's popularity is quickly eclipsing Phil's within The Keystone State (and should take over the Number One spot as soon as Bill Murray makes a movie about Gus).
(The "real" Gus, it should be mentioned, is actually an animatronic puppet
created by Pittsburgh
-based ad agency Marc USA
requiring four able-bodied men to operate. And after his introduction, it soon became apparent just how good being Number Two
can be: lottery ticket sales rose by 37% after Gus became the lottery's official spokesrodent