MARTIN COUNTY Kaitlyn Vidal didn't thinkher pet tree frog "Betty" stood a chance when she entered the amphibianinto the 2021 Cadbury Bunny Tryouts in February.
But why not, Vidal thought, at the very least, it wouldbe a cute photo opportunity.
Donned in a 3D printed top hat and handcrafted felt bunny ears, Betty captured the hearts of the judges immediately earning the four-legged contestant a spot in the semi-finals, then the Top 10 and eventually the big win.
Vidal, of Martin County, and Betty have garnered national attention ever since The Hershey Company declared the tree frog this year's Cadbury Easter Bunnyon March 23.
"It's hard to wrap your mind around it," said Vidal, a 21-year-old student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. "I think it's just a huge blessing to be given this platform. (Betty) has been such a gift to so many people, and I think it's just so sweet to see."
Kaitlyn Vidal's pet tree fog Betty, dressed in a 3D printed top hat and handcrafted felt bunny ears on Friday, April 2, 2021, in Martin County, won a national contest to become the 2021 Cadbury Easter Bunny. The win came with a $5,000 prize Vidal will use to fund a summer graduate program in speech-language pathology at the University of Central Florida and a national TV ad featuring Betty. "It's so crazy how God has used a frog to let me get this money," Vidal said. (Photo: LEAH VOSS/TCPALM )
Betty, a 1-year-old White's tree frog, was the first amphibian to win the award and clenched the prestigious holiday title with over 7,000 votes, Vidal said, beating out over 12,000 other contestants including a llama, goat, donkey and miniature horse.
The two hopped right into their new responsibilities.
Producers and photographers flew into Orlando to feature Betty in Cadbury's nationwide commercial. Vidalhasbeen inundated with interview requests, she said, and was highlighted in People magazineand NBC's TODAY show website.
Betty the frog will be the next Cadbury Easter bunny. She lives in Stuart, Florida.(Photo: The Hershey Company)
The positive reaction has been the best part, she said. Though most have expressed admiration on social media, Vidal added that there have been some unexpected appeals.
A tattoo artist in California sent Vidal a picture of a client who gota tattoo of Betty earlier this week.
Vidal and Betty were also asked to make a guest appearance in a Pennsylvania first-grade classroom via Zoom.
Betty, a 1-year-old Australian White tree frog, is the 2021 Cadbury Easter Bunny after winning a national contest by 2,000 votes. Betty, named after a Taylor Swift song, splits her time between her Martin County home and at the University of Central Florida with her owner, Kaitlyn Vidal. "It's really cool to see all the joy that she's bringing people," Vidal said. (Photo: LEAH VOSS/TCPALM )
"It's just really cool to see all the joy that she'sbringing people. Even in the hardest seasons, you can find joy in such simple things, and I think that Betty has been that for many people," Vidal said, adding that Betty has helped her cope with her own anxiety.
Vidal also won $5,000 from the competitionand is selling "Betty The Frog" merchandise, all of whichshe said is going to offset graduate school tuition.
When she's not in the spotlight, Betty is hanging out with her fellow frog friends Stevie, Gilbert, Charlie and Monk all of whom Vidal entered into the Cadbury contest.
Vidal knew Betty would be the front-runner, she said, because of her confident, energetic personality and natural ease in front of the camera.
After the Easter season, Vidal isn't sure what the future holds for Betty's Cadbury Bunny duties, but is excited to continue sharing her famous frog with the community.
"I definitely think Stuart had a big help with our win," Vidal said. "I'm very grateful, all the support has been really great."
Catie Wegman is TCPalm's community reporter.You can keep up with Catie on Twitter@Catie_Wegman, on Facebook@catiewegman1and email her firstname.lastname@example.org.
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