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People walk past the Okefenokee Oar displayed in the Tate Student Center in Athens, Georgia, on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. The oar was created by the Student Government Associations of University of Georgia and University of Florida as a symbol of their rivalry, and it is kept at the school who won their yearly game until the next meetup. (Photo/Caroline Barnes)

In 2020, Florida broke the Bulldogs’ three-year winning streak against the Gators. In doing so, they also earned the rights to an artifact that had previously been displayed in the Tate Student Center: the Okefenokee Oar.

Instead of a traditional trophy, the winner of the annual Georgia-Florida game gets to take home the 12-foot oar, carved from the remains of a 1,000-year-old cypress tree from the Okefenokee Swamp, a 438,000-mile wetland that straddles the border between the two states.

The oar was donated anonymously to the University of Florida in 2009, and is engraved with a Georgia side and a Florida side, depicting the mascots of both schools on their respective sides. Florida won the 2009 and 2010 games, but the oar made its first trip to Athens when the Bulldogs won the 2011 game 24-20.

On each side are the words “The Okefenokee Oar,” carved into the paddle beneath the school mascot. On the Georgia side is the Georgia state crest, and on the Florida side is Florida’s state crest. Carved into the handle are the scores of all the rivalry games since 2009.

The very bottom of the paddle on the Georgia side reads, “Presented anonymously to the University of Georgia student body,” along with the oar’s dedication date of Oct. 21, 2009. The Florida side is presented to the UF student body.

Since the oar first came to Athens, it has changed hands every three years, remaining with the Bulldogs from 2011-2014, returning to Gainesville from 2014-2017, then coming back to Athens from 2017-2020. Now that Florida has the oar again, whether the Bulldogs will break that streak remains to be seen.

Jake Drukman is The Red & Black's news editor, and has worked for the paper since 2019. He is a senior journalism major with a minor in criminal justice. He especially enjoys covering local politics and crime.

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