NBA Mascots – How Much Do They Make?

It’s no secret that all NBA athletes and coaches make millions of dollars every year, but ever wonder how much NBA mascots make? NBA mascots have a really fun job. They get to be goofy and funny on the court and make money doing that. They are the comic relief for the crowd when the situation gets really intense. Or to help the celebrations of victory.

The NBA is one of the most valuable leagues in America and everyone associated with the NBA makes a lot of money. Be it the camera operators, athletic trainers, or mascots. However, this article will focus only on NBA mascots, so how much do NBA mascots make?

NBA mascot can make anywhere between $22,000 to $100,000 or even more sometimes. The more experienced a mascot is, the higher they get paid. If a mascot is just starting out they will make somewhere around $22,000, whereas an experienced mascot will make around $100,000 or even more at times. Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky the Mountain Lion reportedly made $650,000. He is the highest-paid mascot in NBA history.

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the details.

How much do NBA mascots make?

Salaries for NBA mascots start from $22,000 and can go up to $100,000 or even higher. An average American has a median salary of $63,179, however, according to ESPN, once NBA mascots gain enough experience, their salaries go well beyond $60,000 annually. The highest ever paid NBA mascot Rocky the Mountain Lion was reported to have made $650,000 which is around 10 times more than the average salary for an NBA mascot. Let’s take a look at some of the top paid NBA mascots.

Harry the Hawk

Atlanta Hawks mascot Harry the Hawk is a really busy mascot. Not only does he appear in NBA games, but he also makes more than 200 public appearances every year. According to the official Hawk’s talent request form, Harry the hawk gets paid $250 for a 30-minute appearance. This means that he makes at least $50,000 annually from public appearances alone. Though we don’t have an exact number, his salary is estimated to be in the six-figure range by SportsMascots.com.

Charlotte Hornets’ Hugo

According to the Charlotte Hornets website, Hugo makes from $250 to $1,500 for every public appearance outside of the NBA. It is estimated that in total, Hugo makes well over $100,000 per year.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Moondog

Although Moondog’s salary has not been made public, according to the Cleveland Cavaliers website, his salary starts from $300 per hour. This means that his salary goes well beyond $100,000 annually.

Denver Nuggets’ Rocky

Rocky is the highest-paid mascot not just in the history of the NBA but in all professional sports. As mentioned earlier, Rocky makes around 10 times more than the average salary for an NBA mascot. He was also inducted into the Mascot hall of fame in 2006.

Rumble the Bison (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Rumble the Bison makes $650 for an hour-long appearance and $400 for 30-45 minutes appearances according to the thunder’s website. SportsMascot estimates his annual salary to be between $80,000 to $100,000.

Why are mascots paid so much?

Mascots have such a fun job; they get to run around the court doing silly things, making the crowd laugh, and having fun. Plus they get to be up close with the athletes which every basketball fan dreams of. By the looks of it they have the easiest job in the world, but why do they make so much money?

There is a very simple answer to this. The job of an NBA mascot is not as easy as you might think. These mascots are not like the ones you might see in a high school basketball game. These are professionals who trained and learned the art of performing in front of massive crowds.

Many of these mascots are athletes and stunt people who spend hours and hours training and practicing their routines and perfecting their stunts. Plus they are in great physical shape because they have to perform in all the home games every season.

Some of these mascots are also actors that have the ability to entertain a very large crowd. They develop their own signature routines that the fans love and enjoy so much.

History of NBA mascots

Mascots have now become an integral part of the NBA, but do you ever wonder where this idea of dressing people up is like cute, furry animals to entertain the crowd came from?

The term “mascot” has a French origin and is derived from the word “Moscato” which translates to “fairy or sorcerer.” The word “Moscato” was used in relation to gambling and a Moscato was seen as a good luck charm.

Although it is unclear when the word mascot became prevalent in American sports, it started with baseball in the early 1880s. The first mascots were the bat boys who were thought to bring good luck to the team. Some teams later started using real animals as mascots.

Max patkin also known as the clown prince of baseball was the first known professional sideline performer. However he didn’t wear a special costume, he always appeared in his baseball uniform. The first mascot to appear in a costume was Mr. Metin 1964. After that mascots spread to all sports at every level. Now the mascots even have their own hall of fame in Whiting, Indiana.

How to become an NBA mascot?

A mascot needs to be a people person. They need to be great with people of all age groups because they have to take pictures with a lot of people, deal with drunk fans at games and go to a lot of charity events.

They need to be good entertainers because their job is to entertain an audience that has technically just come to watch football. So it is important that either they are naturally good or formally trained at grabbing people’s attention and entertaining a crowd. They need to be able to gesture and mime because mascots can’t speak

They must be in good athletic shape. Mascots do a lot of stunts, like jumping or running through hoops and making trampoline-assisted dunks which require them to be in perfect physical shape. Also, they have to do this for all the home games for their team in a season, so being in good physical shape is necessary.

If you’re just starting out you should look into training groups like Pro Mascot or Raymond entertainment Group. These groups have helped design some of the most famous mascots like Red Sox’s Wolly. They also train people to become professional mascots, so training with these groups will give you a head start in the industry.

To become a professional NBA mascot you will have to go to mascot tryouts, which are much like trying out for the actual team. You also need to have some experience and the best way to do that is to work with smaller teams.

The NBA takes its mascots very seriously. The mascots serve the NBA by promoting the game in many different ways, like going to charity events and making other public appearances. Now the NBA has started offering courses and training for mascots to help sharpen their skills. The NBA also gives the best mascot of the year a prize which makes a massive impact on their salary. Every franchise looks for a highly skilled mascot because they play a great role in building fan loyalty.

San Antonio Spurs’ mascot The Coyote was named the best mascot of 2020, whereas Denver Nuggets’ Rocky the Mountain Lion was the best mascot of 2019.

Top NBA mascots

The Coyote

The official mascot for the San Antonio Spurs, The Coyote, was awarded the best mascot of the year award in 2020. In 2007 he was inducted into the Mascot Hall of fame and is considered to be the best NBA mascot right now.

Toronto raptors’ the raptor

This red velociraptor wears basketball shoes and a number 95 jersey after the year of the Toronto raptors’ establishment. He is the official mascot of the Toronto raptors.

The gorilla

The guerrilla is the official mascot for the Phoenix Suns. The gorilla was born as an accident when a messanger for a singing telegram service came to the Coliseum dressed as a gorilla during a game. As he was leaving he was asked by the security to do some dances during the timeout and the crowd loved it and the gorilla was born.

Bango the buck

Banjo has been around for a while. He became the official mascot for the Milwaukee Bucks back in 1977. Eddie Doucette who was the announcer for the bucks used to say bango whenever a busks player connected on a long-range basket. When it came to choosing the name for a mascot the bucks went with bango the buck.

Stuff the magic dragon

Stuff the magic dragon is the official mascot for the Orlando magic. He is the tallest mascot in NBA history and came on the scene back in 1989. His name comes from the basketball term stuff, which means to reject a slam dunk.

Benny the bull

Benny the bull the official mascot for the Chicago bulls is one of the oldest NBA mascots. He has been around since 1969. He was named after Ben Bently, who was the first PR manager and Stadium announcer for the bulls.

Final thoughts

Mascots have a tough job to do and not everybody has the ability to stay in a mascot suit for hours on end and keep the crowd engaged. The NBA pays their mascots really well as compared to some of the other famous leagues because mascots have become an integral part of the NBA and the NBA understands that mascots play a great role in building fan loyalty and prompting the NBA brand.

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