Big Red Heating Up For Votes In Capital One National Mascot Of The Year Election

McLean, Va. — In an age of apathetic voters and bland candidates, Western Kentucky University’s Big Red and 11 other college mascots are rejuvenating the national electorate with their school spirit and quest to be the best. While pundits babble on about political strategy and candidates make promises, these furry dozen are already at the center of one of America’s greatest electoral races — the quest to be named the Capital One National Mascot of the Year.

Big Red and the 11 other mascots vying for this year’s title are members of the second annual Capital One All-America Mascot Team, representing colleges and universities from coast to coast. They’re brash. They’re feisty. One’s even a bit Cocky, and another’s a real “nut.” But there are no “Donkey” and “Elephant” party lines in this race; nor is there a terminator, hustler, or “Diff’rent Strokes” child star. “What we talkin’ ’bout?”

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

“In today’s climate, voter turnout can be the key to victory,” said Pam Girardo, mascot spokesperson at Capital One. “The enthusiasm for this year’s National Mascot of the Year contest demonstrates that nothing motivates and energizes people more than a fuzzy, hip-shaking, roof-raising beast of a cheerleader.”

The competition among Big Red and his competitors has been heating up since public voting for the Capital One National Mascot of the Year began Sept. 4 online at www.capitalonebowl.com. Unlike traditional politicians, these characters have been campaigning on just one platform — generating school spirit. They have forgone the traditional hot-air speeches (actually they can’t talk) and bus tours, and replaced them with daring acrobatics, push ups and belly slides to woo voters. They have armed themselves with a war chest of school spirit, and been going classroom-to-classroom and grill-to-grill at tailgating parties, shaking paws, claws and feathers. They even have been waving their “Vote for Me” campaign banners during rush-hour traffic and at local parades, as well as erecting billboards and blasting e-mails to their fan base to drum up support.

That’s not to say that the campaign hasn’t had its tense moments. Feathers flew when one candidate promised voters a “chicken in every pot,” prompting vigorous protests from the birds in the race. And the most recent candidate debate dissolved into chaos when the moderator, that crazy wildlife guy from the cable channel, leapt from his seat and tried to wrestle one of the candidates into a canvas bag.

Despite the controversy, the campaign continues. As of Oct. 31, nearly two million votes have been cast. Brutus Buckeye and Cocky are beak to nut at the top of the rankings. Big Red is in ninth place with 2.1 percent of the votes. Online polling (www.capitalonebowl.com) will remain open until Dec. 22, 2003. The Capital One National Mascot of the Year will be selected based on a panel of judges’ ranking (50 percent) and the on-line voting results (50 percent). The winner will be announced during the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2004. There is no legislation that allows for a recall vote.

About the Capital One All-America Team Competition
The second annual Capital One All-America Mascot Team and National Mascot of the Year contests began in March 2003, when nomination kits were mailed to Division I-A & I-AA schools with college football programs. In June, 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 the 12 finalists. Judging criteria included interaction with fans, sportsmanship and community service. The team was officially announced on July 31, 2003. Each mascot received $5,000 for its school’s mascot program. The Capital One National Mascot of the Year will receive an additional $5,000 (for a total of $10,000).

About Capital One
Headquartered in McLean, Va., 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 —