The Polls Are Open For The Nation's Highest Perch — Capital One Mascot Of The Year

McLean, Va. — The 12 members of the Capital One All-America Mascot Team are gearing up for the biggest kitty-litter slinging campaign in history as they pursue the most coveted title in the land — “Capital One Mascot of the Year.”

Voting for top dog begins Monday online at www.capitalonebowl.com. Vying for the acclaimed title are the 12 members of recently named 2004 team, comprised of mascots from universities and colleges who made the cut in the first round of competition.

The Contenders
Air Force Academy — The Bird
Auburn — Aubie
James Madison — Duke Dog
Georgia — Hairy Dawg
Kentucky — Scratch
Maryland — Testudo
Minnesota — Goldy Gopher
Montana — Monte
Nevada-Las Vegas — Hey Reb
South Carolina — Cocky
Virginia Tech — Hokie Bird
Western Kentucky — Big Red

“The contenders are chanting, flapping, stomping and in some cases growling in their bid to be named favorite crowd pleaser in the nation,” said Pam Girardo at Capital One. “College mascots have more impact on day-to-day (campus) life than even the president. In fact, most experts agree that the dozen creatures named to the Capital One All-America Mascot Team present an exciting — and more diverse — choice for voters.”

Big Red will compete in 11 weekly grueling match-ups with the other finalists (polls close on Dec. 26). The mascot with the best win-lost record will win the online portion of the contest. This “popular” vote will be combined with a judges’ ranking from the initial round of competition (50/50 weighting) to determine who gets the ultimate title. With your help, Big Red will be pronounced National Mascot of the Year on January 1, 2005, during the nationally televised Capital One Bowl on ABC.

This year’s fuzzy crew was chosen from NCAA Division I-A and I-AA athletic programs with college football teams. They made the squad after being ranked on mascot musts such as: (1) interaction with fans, (2) sportsmanship and (3) community service. The panel of judges, including mascot guru and historian, Dr. Roy Yarbrough; former college mascot and current sports marketer from Richmond Sports Backers, Scott Schricker; and representatives from ESPN and Capital One.

“The amount of spirit these mascots generate is impressive. We’ve seen that mascots, just like the teams they root for, have a very loyal following,” said Schricker. “In past years, we’ve seen colleges and universities pull out all the stops to drive fans to vote for their mascot, including Jumbotron tributes, letters from senators, billboards, newspaper ads and e-mails from eager alumni and faculty encouraging fans to vote for their favorite mascot.”

Over the past three years, Capital One has helped thrust the spotlight on these unsung heroes of the gridiron. Team members star in a national advertising campaign, which this year features the mascots as they vie for the heart of “Maiden Melissa” in ads spoofing reality dating shows. In addition to hoopla, each mascot receives $5,000 for its school’s mascot program. Mascot of the Year receives an additional $5,000 scholarship to help fund its school’s mascot program.

About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One FSB, offer consumer-lending products. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in McLean, Va., 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 —