SAN ANTONIO – Mascots have been a staple of sporting events for decades, from their humble beginnings as good luck charms in the late 19th century to the skits and public appearances they perform today. With the advent of social media, mascots have taken to the internet to bring their antics outside the stadiums and arenas of America. These are the ten mascots with the most Instagram followers as of March 29, 2022:
10. Mike the Tiger (LSU) – 54.5k followers
The only mascot on this list to have a live equivalent to the costumed version, Mike has been supporting the LSU Tigers since 1936. Until 2017, the live tiger was often brought to football games, with his cage parked outside the visitors’ locker room of Tiger Stadium. Currently, he can be seen in his over-14,000-square-foot habitat on the LSU campus, and the costumed Mike handles traditional mascot appearances.
9. Blooper (Atlanta Braves) – 68.5k followers
Created in 2018 to replace the retiring Homer the Brave (a baseball-headed mascot a la Mr. Met), reaction to Blooper was initially mixed. Blooper gained traction on social media, however, after pulling stunts attempting to “steal” the large contracts of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. More recently, Blooper feuded with the Cincinnati Reds and Skyline Chili on Twitter in 2021 after displaying a sign during a Braves-Reds game that read “Chili doesn’t go on spaghetti.”
8. Aubie the Tiger (Auburn) – 81.7k followers
Aubie has been the mascot of Auburn University for over 30 years. In that time, Aubie has won nine UCA National Championships (the most of any mascot), and he was the first inductee into the Mascot Hall of Fame. To this day, Aubie is a living example of one of sports’ biggest paradoxes: the cry of “War Eagle” being used by a school whose mascot is a tiger.
7. Coyote (San Antonio Spurs) – 90.5k followers
First appearing in 1983, San Antonio’s own Coyote and his unicycle-riding antics have become well-loved by many in the Alamo City. The Coyote’s creator, Tim Derk, also played a major role in the development of the now-ubiquitous t-shirt cannon.
6. The Oregon Duck (Oregon) – 117k followers
Sometimes called “Puddles,” the Oregon Duck is based on Donald Duck thanks to a licensing agreement with Disney (at one point, the school used Donald himself as their mascot). However, as of 2010, the costumed duck is separate from Donald’s identity, allowing the Duck to step up the meme game on social media.
5. Phillie Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies) – 124k followers
The original “troll” mascot, the Phanatic has a long and illustrious history, including being attacked by Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda in 1988 and parodying Lady Gaga in 2011. In 2019, a lawsuit was filed over the rights to the character, with the Phillies using an altered version for 2020 and 2021. A settlement between the two parties was eventually reached, allowing the original Phanatic to return for the 2022 season.
4. Blue (Indianapolis Colts) – 141k followers
Carrying the torch for the NFL in the top 10, Blue has won multiple awards since his introduction in 2006. Notably, according to the Colts website, Blue “refuses to walk long distances.”
3. Cosmo the Cougar (BYU) – 162k followers
Cosmo shot to internet stardom for his dance routines with the BYU Cougarettes. In addition, Cosmo was the 2020 Mascot National Champion and boasts 1.5 million followers on TikTok.
2. Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers) – 354k followers
The newest mascot on this list and the lone representative of the NHL, Gritty made headlines on his debut for his antics on-ice and on social media. Despite being controversial initially, the citizens of Philadelphia embraced him, and he has become a staple of sports in the City of Brotherly Love.
1. Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls) – 416k followers
The first mascot in the NBA, Benny has been entertaining Bulls fans since 1969. His antics have become the stuff of legends, including his ejection from a Bulls playoff game in 1974. Consistently making “best mascot” lists, Benny has a case to be called one of the most popular mascots in America.
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