Lincoln - Nebraska fans around the world answered Lil' Red's call and sent a statement about the unity in the Husker Nation by voting NU's ambassador of cheer into the Mascot Hall of Fame on Thursday morning. Lil' Red, who trailed Brutus Buckeye by 2,000 votes on Wednesday evening, bypassed Brutus and won the race going away by more than 7,000 votes.
Nebraska's current Lil' Red mascots Justin Kellett, Jamison Wyatt and Jesse Humpal wanted to pass along a Big Red thank you to all the Husker fans around the world who participated in the voting.
"We are so thrilled that Lil' Red pulled through and it could not have happened without the persistence of the great Nebraska fans. Thanks to all of our fans for voting. We started out three weeks ago about 25,000 votes behind Ohio State, and over the last couple of days, we have seen swings of over 10,000 votes each direction in the poll. Without the help of all the fans there is no way Lil' Red would have pulled it off."
Fan voting is a key component in selection to the Mascot Hall of Fame. A final official decision on induction to the Hall of Fame is made by the Mascot Hall of Fame Executive Committee, and will be announced at a later date.Lil' Red, who trailed Brutus in the voting by nearly 25,000 votes in mid-August and ranked sixth among the six mascots up for nomination to the Hall's third collegiate class, registered a total of more than 122,000 votes in the contest, while Brutus finished second with 115,000 votes. The next closest collegiate mascot was Western Kentucky's Big Red, who finished with fewer than 40,000 votes.
Both Lil' Red and Brutus Buckeye each received more than 70,000 votes over the last 72 hours of the contest, as Husker fans and Buckeye fans went head-to-head to try and push their mascots over the top.
As a comparison, all six of the professional mascots up for nomination received fewer than 100,000 votes combined. The combined total of the other four collegiate mascots also fell below 100,000.
The Mascot Hall of Fame announced its 2007 Ballot for Induction in early August and on-line voting began Aug. 6.
Entering his 14th season on the sidelines and in the stands at Nebraska athletic events, Lil' Red was unveiled as the Cornhuskers' contemporary mascot in 1994. Lil' Red has captured numerous awards since its inception, including a National Cheerleaders Association national championship as a mascot in 1999.
Lil' Red's nomination to the Mascot Hall of Fame enabled it to tour with the mascots and appear on the Early Show on CBS, ESPN's First Take and other national broadcasts leading up to the start of the football season.
A total of 12 mascots with six from the Professional category and six from the Collegiate category have been nominated for induction in the Mascot Hall of Fame.
The Collegiate candidates include Brutus Buckeye (Ohio State), Smokey (Tennessee), Big Red (Western Kentucky), The Ibis (Miami) and Sparty (Michigan State).
The Professional candidates feature Hugo the Hornet (New Orleans Hornets), Mr. Met (New York Mets), The Coyote (San Antonio Spurs), Mariner Moose (Seattle Mariners), Youppi (Montreal Canadiens/Expos), The Oriole Bird (Baltimore Orioles).
The Mascot Hall of Fame is in its third year of inducting classes. The 2005 and 2006 classes included the Phillie Phanatic, the Phoenix Suns Gorilla, the Utah Jazz Bear, the Famous Chicken, the Houston Rockets' Clutch the Bear, the Kansas City Chiefs' K.C. Wolf, the University of Auburn's Aubie and the University of Wisconsin's Bucky the Badger.
The Mascot Hall of Fame is operated by Raymond Entertainment Group, headed by David Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic from 1978 to 1993.