(Reuters) – One question answered, but there was still one to go across America after the world’s most famous groundhog emerged on Sunday, saw no shadow in the snowy morning light, and proclaimed an early spring.
It was still hours before millions of Super Bowl fans were to learn who has taken the crown as the greatest team in football.
Just after sunrise, the bucktoothed rodent named Punxsutawney Phil squirmed before an enormous crowd chanting “Phil, Phil, Phil” at the 134th seasonal prognostication in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, about 80 miles (129 km) northeast of Pittsburgh.
“There is no shadow of me. Spring will be early. It’s a certainty,” a top-hat wearing organizer read from a scroll after the animal failed to cast a shadow as snowflakes swirled around him.
Cheers erupted from the crowd wearing knitted hats, carrying children bundled in bright-colored hooded winter parkas.
Each Feb. 2, known as Groundhog Day, crowds gather on a small hill known as Gobbler’s Knob for the festivities. The legendary prediction is rooted in the belief that if the groundhog casts a shadow, winter will endure for six more weeks. No shadow means an early spring.
But this year, Feb. 2 also happened to be Super Bowl Sunday, and millions were poised to watch the wildly popular U.S. sporting event to see whether the San Francisco 49ers or Kansas City Chiefs would emerge victorious.
Kickoff for the National Football League championship game was set for 6:30 p.m. EST (2330 GMT) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
There was no word from groundhog Phil about his bet for the winner of Super Bowl LIV.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Tom Brown