Ask Abe: Bucky Push-Ups

Jessica G.

When did Bucky start doing push-ups, and what’s the most he’s ever done?

Abe

Although Bucky’s push-ups are one of today’s great Game Day traditions, the ritual had an unassuming start. Three former Bucky mascots commenced the push-ups in 1991 in an effort to involve a lackluster crowd following a 1–10–0 season. “The students were bored, the attendance was way down, but hopes were high as a new coach [Barry Alvarez] had just been named,” says Joe Martino ’92, a former mascot who helped start the push-ups. With some ingenuity, the mascots created a board on which Bucky could do push-ups for all game attendees to see, and, by teaming up with the cheerleaders, it was introduced at the September 1991 game against Eastern Michigan. Not only were the push-ups well received, but the Badgers also won the game 21–6. Students trying out for the roster of the well-loved mascot today must successfully demonstrate their arm strength in a push-up test, and for good reason: in 2010, Bucky scored his all-time high of — if we did the math right — 573 push-ups (all while wearing a 35-pound head … oof) at the matchup against the Indiana Hoosiers, which had a final score of 83–20. “I couldn’t feel my arms,” a 2010 Bucky mascot said of the blowout game to the Wisconsin State Journal. “It was pure Jell-O.”