11 Real Mascots People Inexplicably Thought Were A Good Idea

Mascots are fun-time costumed freaks with simple jobs: Endorse a tangentially associated product, crudely personify a broad concept, or distract people from the boring parts of sports. So under absolutely no circumstance should a mascot come within 20 backflips of controversy. And yet ...

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11
The NHL Hired Stan Lee To Make A Bunch Of Knockoff Superheroes

Lots of people love superheroes, and lots of (Canadian) people love hockey. So in 2011, the NHL figured they would hire none other than Stan Lee to come up with 30 brand-new superhero mascots, one for each of the teams in the league. But that sounds like a lot of work (just ask Jack Kirby), so instead Lee figured he could borrow from some of the heroes he'd already brought into the world. And by "borrow" we mean he ripped off famous comic book characters so brazenly that it would make even Deadpool wince.

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The "Guardian Project" was comprised of many superheroes who were, for legal reasons, definitely not related to any existing Marvel products. Like the Panther, who is definitely not Black Panther:

Ah yes, the famous Florida/Wakanda student exchange program.
NHLAh yes, the famous Florida/Wakanda student exchange program.

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Or the Maple Leaf, who's definitely not a roided-up Guardian of the Galaxy in bike shorts ...

I am Groot, eh?NHL"I am Groot, eh?"

Or how about the Penguin, who's definitely not an icy Cyclops:

The massive hernia is a new touch.
NHLThe massive hernia is a new touch.

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And speaking of totally not the X-Men, the Coyote definitely isn't Wolverine in a jacket:

Was Wolverine completely shaven? Didn't think so.NHLWas Wolverine completely shaven? Didn't think so.

But Lee didn't only borrow from his own comic book empire; he also took a few trips down DC Lane. Like with this unholy combination of Magneto and Mr. Freeze:

Loves: hockey, going insane because of his dead wife.
NHLLoves: hockey, going insane because of his dead wife.

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The marketing stunt was a disaster, with fan backlash so severe that the NHL quietly pulled the superhero roster and scrubbed their website clean of any reference. Yet despite suffering a disaster of Infinity War proportions, the company continued milking investors for money, promising that this league of extraordinary copyright violations would get their own superhero movie -- a super-lie that got them super-sued to the super-tune of half a million normal-dollars. (There's no such thing as a super-dollar. Don't be ridiculous.)

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10
UEFA'S Boy Mascot Shares A Name With A Giant Sex Toy

When the people in charge of the 2016 Euro Cup were looking for a mascot, they went with the most wholesome image they could think of: a tiny boy in a superhero costume who loved to play soccer. What better way to celebrate pure sport and make a lot of money at the merch stand from impressionable kiddies?

He's young, he's fun, he's spunky. 
UEFAHe's young, he's fun, he's spunky.

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After high-fiving themselves until their hands chafed, the UEFA board then let fans decide the mascot's name, giving them three options: Goalix, Driblou, and Super Victor. Fans (logically) went for the name that didn't sound like a bad pun out of an Asterix comic and chose Super Victor. But nobody at UEFA was smart enough to Google the name with Safe Search disabled, because if they had, they would have realized there was already a toy named "Super Victor" -- and not the kind for little kids who love to play soccer. Super Victor is a popular, reasonably priced monstrous black dildo.

It's big, it's black, it's definitely spunky
New York Exotic Novelties/AmazonIt's big, it's black, it's definitely spunky

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After causing way too many awkward conversations between parents and young soccer fans, UEFA admitted their mistake and reaffirmed that "the sex aids are not produced by UEFA." European soccer would never associate with something that doesn't immediately go limp and start flopping around after the slightest touch.

9
Freeburg Community High School Refuses To Get Rid Of The Midget

School pride means never giving up, even when you don't have the upper hand. After all, that just makes you the scrappy underdog fighting for all the little people, and why shouldn't your school mascot symbolize that eternal David and Goliath struggle? Because high schools are full of stupid people, that's why.

The only thing about this mascot that fits the school is the brain damage.Freeburg Community High SchoolThe only thing about this mascot that fits the school is the brain damage.

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The mascot at Freeburg Community High School in Illinois isn't just any little person, but a big-headed, silly-mustachioed, severely beaten little person. In fact, the school is so proud of this caricature that it's the first thing you see when visiting the website.

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But what makes Freeburg High special is that it didn't learn its lesson. In 2015, a major backlash hit the school when the Little People of America presented them with a petition to change the mascot. Amazingly, the town stuck to the many guns we assume they have stockpiled in their trailers. The school rejected the heartfelt petition to cheers from the sweaty Freeburg crowd claiming that "when someone messes with something like tradition, you decide something's worth fighting for instead of letting it go." And there's no greater American tradition than small-town folks being close-minded embarrassments to the rest of the country.

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Related: 7 Famous Mascots (Who Once Looked Scary As Hell)

8
Marijuana Activists Have Their Own Child-Friendly Mascot

The battle for marijuana legalization has been long and tough. So to win as many hearts and minds as possible, one weed advocacy group created Buddie, a superhero mascot which would tour colleges and bars to raise awareness for the good times of weed. And if you don't see why that is a terrible idea, you've smoked too much Buddie.

Flying high.
ResponsibleOhioFlying high.

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Buddie was introduced in 2015 to help raise awareness in Ohio right before an important legalization vote. And at no point did the folks in charge consider that maybe a campaign for a drug shouldn't have a kid-friendly cartoon mascot that makes it look like smoking weed turns you into a superhero.

Of all the mascots' vans you shouldn't get into, this one ranks pretty highlyResponsibleOhioOf all the mascots' vans you shouldn't get into, this one ranks pretty highly

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Many people, including children's advocates and other marijuana activists, attacked Buddie. Some even compared him to Joe Camel, the onetime cartoon mascot for tobacco. But the creators refused to back down, claiming he was a great contribution to weed activism. Sadly, that pep and cheer was for naught, as Ohio failed to legalize marijuana in 2015. And if you're looking for anyone to blame, there's a six-foot Brussels sprout in a Superman costume that you could probably point a finger at.

7
The Amarillo Sox Mascot Has A Very Suspicious Bulge

Being a mascot for a team called the Sox is a curse. Not only does it mean you'll have to do cartwheels for minimum wage while dressed as a sweaty sock, but there are so many Soxes out there that there's hardly any way to stand out in the mascot crowd. But one team found the answer to that non-problem, and the result was a massive poke in the eye.

Now that's a mascot who really gets excited to watch some baseball.
Amarillo Globe-NewsNow that's a mascot who really gets excited to watch some baseball.

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When the new Texas Amarillo Sox mascot was unveiled in 2011, fans were mighty shocked when they saw his big stiff ... stocking. Yes, the designers had given it a huge bulge at a 90-degree angle, right at crotch level. And if you think that makes him look like he's in an all-bee production of Boogie Nights, that's just your own dirty mind.

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Even the team itself admitted that it looks like a banana with a massive boner. General manager Mark Lee quickly nixed it, saying, "I'm watching 25 to 30 little kids having a ball with him, and their parents sitting there thinking something else." The team quickly auctioned off the costume on eBay to one lucky fetishist, and have since moved on to become the Texas Airhogs. We're honestly too afraid to look up what that mascot looks like.

6
The Japan Sunwolves Mascot Looks Like A Nightmarish Werewolf Monster

Intimidation is an important strategy in rugby, the only sport that lets teams perform warrior battle chants to terrify their opponents into surrendering. So it would make sense that their mascots aren't pushovers either. But one Japanese team may have taken that mentality a bit too far, choosing a mascot who looks like he just tore the neck out of a bunny rabbit.

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He got real mad when the concession stands stopped selling meth.

In 2016, Japan's rugby team the Sunwolves chose a wolf as their mascot -- one whose costume looks less like something worn by Michael J. Fox and more like something worn by a deranged serial killer. The mascot was so terrifying that fans avoided the supposed ambassador of cheer, and children were too scared to even take pictures with him.

Fortunately, this nightmare spirit from a Norse folktale only lasted for one season, when the fans' unanimous hatred of it convinced the team to give the wolf a makeover, resulting in the more chibi-looking cartoon pal Wolvy.

Neutered in every sense of the word.Sunwolves/JSRANeutered in every sense of the word.

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Related: 7 Horrible Things You Won't Believe Have Cartoon Mascots

5
The Prince Albert Raiders Have An Inexplicably Racist Mascot

With a team name like the Prince Albert Raiders, the possibilities for a mascot are nearly endless. There's the royal angle, there's the pirate angle, there's even the budget-friendly guy in a tin can angle. You know the other angle. But for some reason, the Saskatchewan junior hockey team decided that all of those would be too obvious, so they went with something a bit more out of left field: an Arabic stereotype.

Such an impish smile.CTV News Such an impish smile.

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In 2014, the Raiders introduced Riley, a cartoonish-looking, headscarf-wearing Middle Eastern guy. Why would an all-white Canadian hockey team called "The Raiders" have this as their mascot? According to them, it wasn't meant to be offensive, but to pay homage to their original mascot, an even more blatant Arab stereotype.

Homage is Arabic for racist white person.Prince Albert Raiders"Homage" is Arabic for "racist white person."

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Unsurprisingly, this was met with a huge backlash from just about everyone. The team quickly pulled the mascot and reintroduced Riley the Raider as more of a cartoon dude who's "friendly and silly," and whose favorite hobbies include "dog-walking at the SPCA" and "hugs."

He's so happy not to get any more letters from the ACLU.Prince Albert Raiders He's so happy not to get any more letters from the ACLU.

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4
The Richland High Mascot Is A Mushroom Cloud

Mascots are for everything! Sports teams, stores, annual events, that time America dropped nuclear bombs on two cities and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. Everything!

Boom! Goes the school's reputation.Richland Bombers Boom! Goes the school's reputation.

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The people of Richland, Washington are still very proud of their contributions to the Manhattan Project, and nowhere is that more obvious than in their high school team's name, the Richland Bombers. Apparently, the specter of humanity's annihilation is something the school is so keen on that they put a mushroom cloud on just about everything.

11 Real Mascots People Inexplicably Thought Were A Good IdeaRichland Bomber Boosters

Richland High: self-destructing since 1945.Richland Bomber BoostersRichland High: self-destructing since 1945.

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Some alumni have even tattooed the mushroom cloud on their arms, which must lead to many proud conversations at bars convincing women that no, they don't have a tattoo of a fart, it's actually a celebration of mass murder and the looming threat of WWIII.

3
An Italian Company Stole The Worst-Looking Mascot Of All Time

As this article has repeatedly shown, not everyone's up to the simple task of designing a mascot, so theft can be a real issue. But leave it to people too dumb to think of their own googly-eyed idiot to steal the blandest mascot that has ever graced the inside of a stadium.

Those big eyes that say What god would allow me to exist?
MediasetThose big eyes that say "What god would allow me to exist?"

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Meet Gabibbo, the mascot for one of Italy's biggest media companies. In a lot of ways, it nails that perfect mix of being utterly nondescript yet unsettling at the same time, like something a dermatologist surgically removed from Barney the Dinosaur's back. And this abomination wasn't even an original idea. The company stole the look from another bug-eyed blood clot from across the world: Western Kentucky University's Big Red.

Behold the masterpiece worthy of plagiarism
Western Kentuky University Behold the masterpiece worthy of plagiarism

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When WKU found out the Italian media stallion had stolen their idea (the creators outright admitted this was the case), a 15-year court battle ensued. That almost went sideways in 2018, when the courts decided that a dumb red blob is too generic to copyright. But then an Italian court rebooted the lawsuit, meaning WKU still has a chance to collect a whopping $250 million in damages, which is about $250 million more than that doofy tomato of a mascot would've ever earned them.

Related: The 6 Most Clearly Disturbing Mascots In Marketing History

2
Gerome, The Manitoba Garden Gnome, Put A Friendly Smile On Mass Layoffs

In late 2018, a clerk eager to boost morale amongst Manitoba government employees pulled a move that would make Michael Scott proud. Fred Meyer introduced Gerome G. Gnome, a ceramic garden gnome which he would photograph visiting scenic locations all across Manitoba.

Wishing You Were Here (Because I'm Bored Out Of My Mind).Government of ManitobaWishing You Were Here (Because I'm Bored Out Of My Mind).

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It was all so cute. Meyer even wrote the province's executive council an email as Gerome, which opened with a line that reads like a variant of the Nigerian prince scam aimed at Hobbits: "I come from a long line of gnomes who have been featured in European myths and legends." The government immediately fell in love. They made Gerome the elderly imp their unofficial mascot. Right in time to cheer up all those workers whose jobs they were threatening.

Hey, I can see the house you can no longer afford from here!Government of Manitoba"Hey, I can see the house you can no longer afford from here!"

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That's right, Gerome G. Gnome didn't bring people cobbled shoes or neat gardens, but mass firings. Right after the gnome campaign, Manitoba left its government employees in the cold by letting a vital no-layoffs clause lapse. So while Gerome was seeing the sights on the taxpayer's dime, the government pledged to cut 1,200 jobs, leaving those hard-working employees with a lot more free time to spend at gnome. Ha! Classic. Really did ruin lives, though.

1
The Amherst College Mascot Is A British Colonel Who Advocated For The Genocide Of Native Americans

America has had more than a few sports teams that have disrespected Native Americans by using them as mascots. But one liberal arts school found the perfect way to counter that trend: Why not make cute mascots out of the people who tried to wipe Natives off the face of the Earth instead?

You thought you would be able to sleep tonight? Faraway Lord Jeff begs to differ.Robert Howard/NPRYou thought you would be able to sleep tonight? Faraway Lord Jeff begs to differ.

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Amherst, Massachusetts shares its name with Lord Jeffery Amherst, a colonial military commander who conquered the land that would become New France and helped shape early North America. But scroll half an inch down his Wikipedia page, and you'll see that Lord Jeff is better-known for being a white supremacist who hatched plans on how best to wipe Native Americans off the face of the country he helped steal from them. In a 1763 letter, he wrote: "You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race." Which is a tricky catchphrase to put into a pep rally chant.

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So sometime in the '60s, Amherst College figured they should get in on his creepy Unabomber fame. They made "Lord Jeff" their mascot, and even named their college hotel the Lord Jeffrey Inn. It has to be the only hotel in the world where no guest has ever had the courage to ask for an extra blanket.

"Please please please don't litter this. We're already in enough trouble."

Finally, in 2016, Amherst students spoke out, and the college agreed to remove all association with the genocidal colonizer, instead choosing a woolly mammoth as their new mascot. Hopefully somebody vetted his Facebook page first to make sure the mammoth is not also a murderous racist. These are tricky times.

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