The tradition of having a live ram at home football games began in 1924. Cheerleader Vic Huggins, looking for inspiration during a lackluster season, wanted to find a live animal mascot for the team. Inspired by star fullback Jack Merritt, known as the Battering Ram, Huggins decided to use a ram. He paid $25 for a live ram from a farm in Texas. Dubbed Rameses, the ram made its debut at a game on November 8, 1924. A live ram, often with its horns painted Carolina blue, has been a fixture at Tar Heel home football games ever since. When not at football games, Rameses lives at a farm near campus in the care of the Hogan family, who have cared for at least twenty generations of the Rameses line.
The university included Rameses as one of its trademarks when it began its licensing program in the early 1980s. The first Rameses costume was introduced during the 1987—88 basketball season. The ram costume, worn by a student, was more popular than the short-lived "Tar Heel Tim" in the 1970s, a student dressed as a large foot. The Rameses costume design went through a couple of changes over the years but quickly became a regular part of the Carolina athletics experience and a visible symbol of the university at events around campus. In 2015, to handle increasing demands for Rameses at events and to try to connect more with kids, the university introduced Rameses Jr., another costumed ram, this one with Carolina blue horns and a more friendly expression on its face.
Date Established: 1924
Date Range: 1924 – Present