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Capital One Check Presented to Mascot of the Year Big Blue at Men's Basketball Game

The Ted was rocking for Saturday's men's basketball rivalry with Virginia Commonwealth University. The Monarchs lost in agonizing fashion, 59-50, but the crowd couldn't have been more passionate throughout the game.

Especially when it came time to honor ODU's "champion" - Big Blue.

The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Blue when he received a $20,000 check for winning the 2010 Capital One Mascot of the Year competition. Big Blue defeated 15 other mascots, garnering more than 2 million votes in the process, to win the contest, which is in its ninth year.

"We're always amazed by the passion that all the fans have for their mascots," said Byron Daub, Capital One's director of sponsorships, who presented the check to Big Blue.

"We created this contest nine years ago to celebrate the unsung heroes of college football and college athletics in general, the mascots. They don't always get the credit and recognition they deserve. At the end of the day they are truly student-athletes, at the highest level of competition."

Monarch fans took to the Internet and voted for Big Blue with vigor. In the semifinal showdown with Puddles the Duck from the University of Oregon, ODU fans voted more than 700,000 times in one week.

Daub said schools with a lower national profile have thrown themselves into the competition in the past. "Certainly, as we've seen over the last few years, some of the schools that don't necessarily have a national prominence from an athletic program have really rallied behind their mascot," he said. "A couple of years ago, we had the University of Akron, Zippy the mascot, win the competition."

The exposure that Big Blue and ODU received on a national scale from the contest - national commercials and advertisements on the ESPN.com website - was a huge boost to Old Dominion athletics.

"The mascots are the icon that represents the university. It's the character, the spirit of competition. Fans are excited to have the opportunity to support their mascot. This really provides a platform to celebrate these mascots in another way," Daub said.

Capital One is a large corporate sponsor of college athletics, supporting Capital One Bowl Week on ESPN, and creating a competition called the Capital One Cup for schools that have success across the board in their men's and women's athletic programs.

"We really like supporting the passion that fans have toward college athletics," Daub said.

During yesterday's check presentation ceremony, ODU athletics also recognized a few individuals who helped coordinate the campaign that led to Big Blue's victory over much larger schools. Former Big Blue Mark Hering, director of marketing and promotions David Weisser, public relations officer Lisa Sinclair and blogger Lindsay Evans were acknowledged by the sellout crowd for their many hours of work.

ODU students will be acknowledged on Tuesday, Jan. 25, when Big Blue hosts an Ice Cream and Cake social in Webb Center at 12:30 p.m. Student voters helped put Big Blue over the top in the contest, and in the process, put some serious strain on the vote-counting servers for Capital One.

This article was posted on: January 24, 2011

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