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Oct. 11, 2004

McLean, VA –
Cocky, the University of South Carolina mascot, and the 11 other 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 mascot begins Monday, October 11 online at 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
University of Montana – Monte
Auburn University – Aubie
University of Nevada/Las Vegas – Hey Reb
James Madison University – Duke Dog
University of South Carolina – Cocky
University of Georgia – Hairy Dawg
Virginia Tech – Hokie Bird
University of Kentucky – Scratch
Western Kentucky University – Big Red
University of Maryland – Testudo
University of Minnesota – Goldy Gopher

“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 a great impact on day-to-day (campus) life. 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.”

“As the reigning champion, Cocky has a lot to fight for in this year’s competition and only the Gamecock faithful can pull him through. It is an honor for the University of South Carolina that our mascot is among the national favorites.”

Cast Your Vote for Cocky!
Voting consists of 11 weekly match ups between the finalists (polls close on Dec. 26). The mascot with the best win/loss 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. The winner will be pronounced National Mascot of the Year on Jan. 1, 2005 during the nationally televised Capital One Bowl on ABC.

This year’s fuzzy crew was chosen from Division IA and IAA athletic programs with college football teams. Cocky 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 Scott Schricker, Contest Judge. “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 hooplah, Cocky received $5,000 for South Carolina’s mascot program. Mascot of the Year receives an additional $5,000 scholarship to help fund its school’s mascot program.