On July 31, 1970, Slow Poke the Possum was granted executive clemency by Governor Bob Scott in a ceremony at the State Capitol. Slow Poke was an ordinary opossum who won a “prettiest possum” competition at the Spivey’s Corner Hollerin’ Contest in 1970. The winning possum was to be given to the governor, and on July 16, 1970, Slow Poke, his owner, hollerin’ champ H. H. Oliver and beauty contest winner Margaret Ann Wilkes, visited Scott. When Wilkes confided to the governor that she had never eaten possum, Scott immediately invited her to a possum banquet in the Executive Mansion with Slow Poke as the main course.
Hundreds of calls and letters from an indignant public protested the governor’s proposed possum feast, leading to Scott granting the possum clemency. Slow Poke was turned over to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission and later was released at the Raven Rock State Park.
Governor Scott, however, was unrepentant. “I shall not be thwarted in my appetite for possum,” he said. The governor was true to his word. A few years later, Scott served possum at a black tie affair at the Executive Mansion.
See more images of Slow Poke on the State Archives Flickr site.
For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.