Lottery axes spokesrodent, Gus the Groundhog

Groundhogs Gus and Gabby will no longer be peddling lottery tickets in Pennsylvania.
Groundhogs Gus and Gabby will no longer be peddling lottery tickets in Pennsylvania.
Posted: February 22, 2012

Some will mourn.

Some will say, "Good riddance to that flea-bitten pitch-puppet!"

Gus, "the second most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania," is ending his gig with the state lottery.

No longer will TV viewers hear his chortly voice urge citizens to "keep on scratching" those instant lottery tickets.

For nearly eight years, during more than 50 commercials, the animatronic animal seemed so happy rapping, trying out for the Eagles and advising tongue-tied loverboys.

"We wanted to stay fresh and relevant with our advertising, and thought it was time to allow Gus to enjoy his semi-retirement," said lottery spokeswoman Allison Roberts.

She's sworn to secrecy about Gus-less promotions debuting March 1.

Let's hope he takes it well.

If Gus goes postal, those sharp claws could do serious damage.

Imagine the jealous rage if his also-pink-slipped girlfriend, Gabby, dumps him for somebody still-employed, like shadow-checker Punxstawney Phil.

Then again, the nasty cross-dressing rumors should fade.

Gabby looks like Gus with a bad woodchuck wig.

Think about it: Anyone ever really see them together in the Poconos?

No word if Gus will try to latch on with a casino, the Phillies ground crew, or a certain Philly basketball team that's without a featured creature.

More likely Gus will wind up at group therapy sessions for rejected mascots, like Sixers castoffs Hip Hop and Big Shot, or the Burger King, until it's time to park in one of the rocking chairs at the Bertie the Bunyip Home for Has-Beens.

Gus might be missed.

But not by the likes of A.J. Thomson of Fishtown, who once wrote in the Daily News:

"I've never been hunting and don't recall ever holding a gun. I never saw my father's service revolver from his days as a Philadelphia police officer. But despite a healthy anti-gun attitude, I find myself with an urge to shoot something for the first time in my life. Gus the Groundhog must die."

Thomson explained that Gus was too good at parting people from their money.

For the fiscal year that ending in June, instant games accounted for nearly $2 billion of the Pennsylvania Lottery's total revenue of $3.2 billion.

"We think the new commercials will cost less, but it really depends on the evolution of the new campaign," Roberts said.

Gus' spots typically cost $300,000 to $400,000 just to produce, and non-Gus spots are more like $250,000, she said.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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