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The Land-Grant Trophy: Where You May Have Missed It

The Land-Grant Trophy was created in 1993 as a symbol of victory for the team that won the Penn State-Michigan State matchup. The Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862 allowed for the creation of land-grant colleges from the sales of federal land in different states. Two universities that would come to prominence as a result are — you guessed it — Penn State and Michigan State.

The Land-Grant Trophy is among the most beautiful creations ever made by human hands. Take a look for yourself.

The total lack of aesthetic appeal, the seemingly-random pictures, and the out-of-place trophy figures have made this trophy among the most identifiable pieces of artwork in human history.

In fact, you may not have realized how many important places the Land Grant Trophy has shown up throughout time and space. Here are a couple of examples of times when you may have just glanced over this famous trophy.

Chauvet Cave

The Chauvet Cave in southern France is home to some of the oldest and best-preserved cave paintings known to humankind. These paintings are believed to be about 30,000 years old, but something stood out to us. Beneath the animals portrayed there, an early painting of the Land-Grant Trophy is clearly visible.

We superimposed a high-definition image of the trophy to the left of the original painting to make it more obvious. History is amazing.

The Last Supper Painting

Leonardo da Vinci painted one of his greatest works — The Last Supper — at the end of the fifteenth century. The painting depicts Jesus’ disciples’ reactions when he says that one of them will betray him (read: Penn State fans’ reactions to the 4th and 5 call).

You may not have noticed it before, but the Land-Grant Trophy is featured prominently right smack in the middle of the table. It makes you wonder if Leonardo da Vinci was a college football fan.

The Coronation Of Napoleon

Jacques-Louis David finished The Coronation of Napoleon in 1807, a painting that depicts the scene where the French military leader became emperor. Napoleon shows his new official power by holding up the majestic Land-Grant Trophy for all to see.

Lunch Atop A Skyscraper

On September 20, 1932, Charles Clyde Ebbets captured an iconic moment in which construction workers dangled above the New York skyline during the creation of the Rockefeller Center. 

All the way to the right of that steel beam, however, you can see the Land-Grant Trophy taking in views of Manhattan. We don’t know what exactly the trophy made for teams based in central Pennsylvania and Michigan was doing all the way in New York City, but the evidence is pretty convincing.

The Moon

This photo was taken by Neil Armstrong on the moon and shows Buzz Aldrin walking about the “Sea of Tranquility” on the lunar surface. If you look closely, though, you can see the Land-Grant Trophy in the shot.

We’re not sure whether these famous astronauts brought the trophy to the moon or if it was there when Aldrin and Armstrong arrived — we have more questions than answers.

Spongebob’s House

The Land Grant Trophy has even ventured into the realm of animated TV. Patrick opens up one of Spongebob’s closets and a host of trophies falls out while the duo worked to get Patrick his own award.

Among his many awards, Spongebob has apparently taken the Land-Grant Trophy for himself. After all, what would a collection like that be without the most important trophy of them all?

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About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a senior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected].

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