As Paul McCartney knows, you don’t really become a legend until people believe you’re defunct. “Paul Is Dead” rumors were rife in the fall of ’69. This fall, the dubious honor belongs to Spuds MacKenzie, Bud Light’s “original party animal.” Yes, Spuds, the curiously inexpressive English bullterrier (not the pit bullterrier of notoriety) who, heralded by Robin Leach voice-overs, attracts packs of nubile human females whenever he shows up in a Bud Light commercial. Bill Stolberg, an Anheuser-Busch spokesman in St. Louis, first heard the rumor when he got a call from a New York radio station. “The guy said, ‘Tell me it isn’t so.’ I said, ‘What isn’t so?’ ‘That Spuds died in a limo crash.’ ” Stolberg said it wasn’t so, but no matter. Other stories are overspreading the nation like beer foam. People in the South have heard that Spuds died in a plane crash, a la Ritchie Valens. In L.A., word has it the dog was electrocuted in a hot tub or drowned while strapped to a surfboard during filming. In the Midwest, he is said to have been trampled by the insanely jealous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales or to have taken a fatal pratfall into a vat of Coors Light. In San Francisco, rumor claims that if you play “Go Spuds Go” backward, you hear “Spuds is dead.”
But he isn’t. Or she isn’t. Spuds is actually a bitch whose real name is Honey Tree Evil Eye. Her friends call her Evie for short. When the 4-year-old isn’t on the road making promotional appearances, she’s alive and well at 2300 Sixth Ave., North Riverside, Ill. The corner house is easy to spot: Her owners, Jackie and Stanley Oles, have erected a statue of Spuds in the yard.
Why are the rumors so prevalent? Brooke Chapman, a Chicago account executive working on the Bud Light ads, thinks “these nasty stories were probably started by Coors.” But the real explanation may be deeper and darker. Prof. Alan Dundes, an urban humor expert at the University of California, Berkeley, believes “men are jealous of Spuds because he’s getting oohed and aahed by all those women in the commercials. Whoever started the rumors feels that Spuds has had his fair share and it’s time for him to get his. Let’s make no bones about it, this is a dog-eat-dog world.”