Top Mascot: WKU's Big Red Named To 2003 Capital One All-America Mascot Team

July 31, 2003

McLean, Va. - Capital One announced Thursday Big Red of Western Kentucky University was selected to the second annual Capital One All-America Mascot Team. Big Red joins 11 other B.M.O.C.s (that's "Big Mascots on Campus") whose fur, feathers and scales will be featured in an upcoming national television advertising campaign showcasing their competition for the Capital One National Mascot of the Year title.

The 2003 Capital One All-America Mascot Team
Albert - University of Florida
Hairy Dawg - University of Georgia
Aubie - Auburn University
Harry the Husky - University of Washington
Big Red - Western Kentucky University
Monte - University of Montana
Brutus Buckeye - Ohio State University
Scratch - University of Kentucky
Chip - University of Colorado
Smokey - University of Tennessee
Cocky - University of South Carolina
YoUDee - University of Delaware

"Last year, college mascots flocked to join the All-America mascot team, and this year the contest for the 12 coveted spots was even more ferocious," said Pam Girardo, mascot spokesperson at Capital One. "We look forward to watching the finalists go beak-to-beak and snout-to-snout to claim the Capital One National Mascot of the Year title beginning in September. May the best mascot win!"

Being named an All-American comes with its fair share of perks - the recognition, the photo shoots, a national television advertising campaign, the parties, adoring fans, bragging rights and the cash (each member of the mascot team receives $5,000 for its school's mascot program).

Capital One started the All-America Mascot and National Mascot of the Year contests last year to pay homage to the top college mascots in the country. Mascots traditionally have been the Rodney Dangerfields of the sports world.

"Capital One is all about challenging the status quo," said Girardo. "While most people glorify the star quarterback or lineman, Capital One wants to recognize the unsung hero of college football - the mascot. They embody the true spirit of college football and it's time they had their day in the sun."

This year's pack of characters was chosen from Division I-A and I-AA athletic programs with college football teams. Nomination kits, which were mailed to the Division I-A and I-AA athletic departments in March, were due back on June 6, 2003. A panel of judges, including original Phillie Phanatic David Raymond; mascot guru and historian, Dr. Roy Yarbrough; and representatives from ESPN and Capital One, selected and notified the 12 finalists in June. Judging criteria included interaction with fans, sportsmanship and community service.

The selection of the team sets the stage for a fierce battle for the coveted Capital One National Mascot of the Year title beginning in early September. Fans across the country will be able to vote for their favorite mascot of the 12 through real-time, online polling at www.capitalonebowl.com. The winner will be selected based on the judges' ranking (50 percent) and the on-line voting results (50 percent). The Capital One National Mascot of the Year will be announced during the Capital One Bowl on January 1, 2004, and will receive an additional $5,000 (for a total of $10,000) for its school's mascot program.

"We are extremely proud of Big Red's selection to the 2003 Capital One All-America Mascot Team," said Dr. Wood Selig, Western Kentucky University Director of Athletics. "We look forward to supporting his quest for the title of Capital One National Mascot of the Year beginning in September."

"Big Red has become so recognizable in recent years thanks to ESPN and other commercial appearances," continued Selig. "That notoriety is a direct credit to the creativity and energy of our students who don the costume each day."

About Capital One Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries include: Capital One Bank and Capital One FSB, which offer consumer lending products, and Capital One Auto Finance, Inc., which offers auto loan products. Capital One's subsidiaries collectively had 45.8 million managed accounts and $60.7 billion in managed loans outstanding as of June 30, 2003. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world. Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 500 index. Capital One's affiliation with college football began with the sponsorship of the 2001 Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl (now the Capital One Bowl) and ESPN's Bowl Week. In addition, Capital One sponsors the ABC College Football Halftime Report and numerous other college football programs.

- WKU -