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Pennsylvania Lottery Groundhog Gus Forced Into Early Retirement

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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) - “Gus the Groundhog” has scratched off his last Pennsylvania Lottery ticket. The eight year-old TV advertising icon is being retired.

“Keep on scratchin!”

Alas, the only thing he’ll be scratching now is fleas.

“Gus, Mr. Second most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania.”

There’s no truth to the rumor that Punxsutawney Phil couldn’t stand the heat and had him rubbed out.

No, it seems Gus is just the victim of the vagaries of marketing schemes.

Lottery Director Todd Rucci made the announcement during a budget hearing Tuesday, as he was being questioned by Joe Markosek, ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

“Are we still going to see the groundhog?” Markosek asked.

“You will not,” Rucci replied. “The groundhog is going to be moving away.”

Rucci’s boss, the revenue secretary, says the robotics involved with bringing the critter to life made those spots expensive. But Markosek had another explanation.

“Well, the governor said he was going to lay off state workers.”

Gus was featured in more than 59 commercials since 2004.

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