Jukka Mutanen, better known as "Excavator-Mutanen," said he'd drive across Finland in his mini-excavator if he got 50,000 Facebook followers. He ended up with 100,000, and he's just finished the epic 29-day road trip — at 2.5 mph.

Jukka's Finnish, so that automatically makes him friendly — like a red-bearded teddy bear, and for however little sense this whole adventure makes, its success probably has a lot to do with that. The challenge started out simple enough: Mutanen wanted to top 50,000 Facebook friends because the pursuit of arbitrary self-promotion is what all the cool kids are doing these days. In exchange for hitting that figure, the sales and repairman promised to drive his Sunaward SWE17B compact excavator from the southernmost tip of Finland at Hanko to the northern town of Kuusamo, setting a Guiness record in the process. Jukka pulled down enough friends (101,966 to date), so he had to make good on his promise.

The trip is 589 miles and normally takes about 14.5 hours by car. In a mini-excavator plodding along at 2.5 mph, it took 29 ten-hour days of driving. Jukka didn't make the trip alone: He packed his bags and used the dump bucket to carry them the whole way, but he was also accompanied by well-wishers, parades, and various vehicle escorts. At times, the crowd became so large that he had to slow down.

Along the way, the excavator was decorated with everything from plush toys to deer antlers. Fans decked out in "Excavator-Mutanen" merchandise had Mutanen sign autographs and take pictures, and local news ran stories in print, TV, and radio.

When Jukka arrived in Kuusamo, his treads were well worn but his country's enthusiasm was not: He was greeted by a crowd of over five thousand people, including the president of the excavator company, flown in from China. The whole story is so ridiculous you can't help but love it. Congrats, Jukka, and may the road ahead of you be smooth — but not so smooth that your excavator will be useless.

(Hat tip to Merc9000)

[Excavator Man's Facebook Page]