Brian Kemp campaigns at a young Republicans tailgate party at UGA in 2018. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/
Photo: Bob Andres/

Pythons or pigs? Kemp and DeSantis place epic Georgia-Florida bet

Gov. Brian Kemp has an extra reason to be on the edge of his seat for Saturday’s matchup between Georgia and Florida.

The die-hard Georgia football fan placed an epic bet Friday with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the outcome of the annual grudge match in Jacksonville. 

If Georgia loses, Kemp will have to venture down to the Everglades to hunt for pythons that have plagued the nature preserve. Just last month, trappers captured an 18-foot long Burmese python in the swamp.

“We need the help. We’re making progress. But I’d love to see the Gators win and Governor Kemp come down there,” said DeSantis. “And who knows - you may even end up with a pair of python boots on the end of it.”

And if the Bulldogs win? DeSantis would head to south Georgia to track down feral hogs that have ravaged the state’s farmland.

“I know that wild hog sausage is a lot better than python,” said Kemp. “So let’s go Dawgs. Hunker down. We gotta get another one in Jacksonville.”

It sure puts a lot more on the line than the typical gubernatorial bet -- a gift basket or two of each states’ finest produce.

And maybe they’ll chat about the long-running water wars court battle that’s costing both states tens of millions of dollars.

Rivalry game

Kemp, an Athens native and UGA graduate, has ties so deep to the school that they helped shape his 2018 run for office. 

He steeped his campaign in the hues of deep red and black, lacing his speeches with catchphrases from Georgia coach Kirby Smart. 

His passion for UGA runs so deep that Democrats tried to get under his skin at a home game against Tennessee by flying a banner above Sanford Stadium that read: “@BrianKemp says … Go Vols.”

Since his victory, the governor engineered the renaming of the football field after Vince Dooley, the legendary coach and close family friend, despite entrenched opposition from some higher education officials. 

Still, even if Georgia wins, Kemp has already suffered a football-related dig from another state leader. 

Kemp met with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Friday to discuss what was described as “collaboration, communication and cooperation” across state lines.

But McMaster couldn’t help but tweak Kemp over Georgia’s humbling loss last month to the Gamecocks. He added on Twitter that his English bulldog Mac “made sure to welcome him to the state with superior football programs. (And more peaches).”

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.