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Thursday, June 21, 2012
Discover's 'Peggy' actually a big sports fan

By Dave Wilson



In a series of Discover Card commercials, Peggy, a customer service representative at USA Prime Credit, couldn't be more unhelpful, even to a series of beloved sports idols.

The spots, in heavy rotation during many sports events from bowl season to the NHL playoffs, have featured the Boston Bruins' Tim Thomas, the Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane, and legendary college football coaches Lou Holtz and Bobby Bowden.

The man behind the Peggy character, however, is quite the sports fan. And also a high school algebra teacher in Santa Ana, Calif.

Tudor Petrut, 48, came to the United States from Romania as a huge soccer fan and was forced to adapt upon moving to Los Angeles.

"I am Romanian in origin so that means I was born into soccer, right? So like any European male, I'm a big soccer fan. I'm watching the Euro 2012 as we speak, of course," Petrut said on Wednesday. "The funny story is that I moved here in 1990 and there was no soccer in America. Because it was Gretzky's second season with Kings at that point, and L.A. was becoming a hockey town, I replaced soccer with hockey."

The twist is that Petrut moved to Orange County several years ago and adopted the Ducks.

"I think I was there [for the Ducks'] second game and ever since," Petrut said. "So I switch allegiances down the freeway to the Ducks, and I do live in Orange County."

So with his commercials playing throughout, Petrut was forced to watch the rival Kings make a historic run to win the Stanley Cup.

"I was not a believer until the playoffs, to be honest with you," Petrut said. "Being a sports fan is like being in love. You never know which one direction you're going."

Petrut is often recognized at Ducks games, he says, and is enjoying his little slice of fame, even if it means strangers will be shouting "Peggy!" at him for a long time.

Just don't try it in his classroom. "No, not at school. I'm very strict about it," he said. "I'm sure the school district wants me to be strict about it." He said he teaches at an alternative high school and gets all new students every trimester. It always begins with whispers, the "I know you from somewhere" comments.

"What can I do? It's my face," he said, with a laugh. "I do try to do something else in the industry. I will be Peggy, there's nothing I can do about it. Even casting directors will say, 'Look who's here! It's Peggy.' I say, 'Thank you very much, that's typecasting.'

"I think it's fun," he said. "Who wouldn't? C'mon."