By Shereen Siewert

The Rhinelander Hodags have the best mascot in America, according to a poll.

Rhinelander was the only Wisconsin high school mascot appearing in the championship round and won by a landslide, taking home more than 63 percent of the votes. The Hodags received 183,455 votes out of the 291,011 people voting in the poll.

In American folklore, the hodag is a fearsome creature resembling a large bull-horned carnivore with a row of thick curved spines down its back.

According to Wisconsin Frights, the beast was first described by newspapers in 1893 as having “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end.”

Like the tales of Paul Bunyan, hodag folklore grew out of the campfire stories of logging camps in the Rhinelander area. They were fearsome creatures born from the ashes of cremated oxen who suffered great abuse at the hands of the woodsmen, history buffs say.

But in modern day Wisconsin the hodag is synonymous with the Rhinelander area, from its high school to its famed annual country music festival and more. Learn all about this fascinating creature here – or just visit the city, where hodag symbols are virtually everywhere.

Congratulations to the Rhinelander Hodags!