Benny the Bull
For more than 39 years, Benny the Bull had entertained Chicago Bulls fans, first at Chicago Stadium (1969–1994), and then at the United Center (1994–2014). He had become just as popular as some of the franchise's most notable figures, such as players Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, and head coach Phil Jackson. Benny is one of the longest-tenured mascots in the NBA and in all of professional sports. Benny was named after Ben Bentley, the Bulls first Public Relations Manager and Stadium Announcer.
The current and most popular Benny has had many "relatives" or family members over the years. His great-grandfather, in the late 60s, was the first NBA mascot. Many other variations/family members of the bull where passed on to different ones, including Benny's chubby predecessor (or father) in the 90s. A slim, dunking bull mascot named "Da Bull" was added at the time. According to an article on the Bull's website: "Da Bull is Benny the Bull’s cousin, and he made his first appearance at a Bulls game during the 1995-96 season. That is why his uniform number is 95. Among Da Bull’s many talents are tumbling, gymnastics, playing basketball, break dancing, reading, officiating basketball games, and most importantly, performing his signature slam dunks! Da Bull does not have a tail like other Bulls. He lost his tail while practicing his amazing dunks at the United Center. By not having a tail, Da Bull has been able to perform even more slam dunks and tumbling because his long, skinny tail no longer gets in the way. An injury to his hoof during the 1999-2000 Bulls season sidelined Da Bull briefly, but he returned to the trampoline after a short recovery period."   His performer, Chester Brewer, was arrested in 2004 for illegally selling marijuana from his car, therefore retiring the mascot.
In 2004, the current version of Benny The Bull was introduced. He has been acclaimed as one of the most popular mascots of all time, including being named the most popular mascot in sports by Forbes in 2013 
The modern version of Benny is famous for his impressive dancing, aerobic flips and jumps, multiple dunking tricks, giant popcorn spilling, rappelling from the United Center rafters, shooting backwards halfcourt shots, banging on his drum, using multiple cans of silly string, interacting with crowds, instances of taunting opposing players (most notably his act of tearing off the pants of others' pre-game warm up outfits), driving his bike down stairs, throwing cakes, shooting t-shirts out of his "Bullzooka", and more. He usually performs trampoline dunks alongside his team "Benny and the Elevators"  His current "family" consists of two inflatable mascots named "Big Ben" and "Benji".  (Benji has a similar appearance to "Lil' Benny", who used to appear alongside Benny on the court and in videos. Lil' Benny's overall design was based off the 1990s Benny) Benny's antics have gotten him worldwide attention and recognition. He's also been seen alongside multiple celebrities, from messing with Justin Bieber or performing the "Single Ladies" dance in front of Jay-Z  In addition to performing stunts and entertaining the crowd at Bulls games, Benny also makes public appearances throughout the greater Chicago area on behalf of the team. Benny made approximately 250 appearances per year. As a member of the Bulls' All-Star Reading Team, he appeared at schools to promote literacy and the importance of a good education. He could also be booked for private events. Benny had also worked as a mascot on individual dates for other professional sports franchises, such as the Billings Outlaws. He usually travels around in his van, 'Benny's Bull Ride™' and is almost always with his assistant, Todd Abbott.
Benny has bright red fur with large eyes, a tan snout, horns with red tips, a black and furry uni brow, orange and pink hair, a long red tail and black gloves with red fur on the back. Benny wears an authentic uniform (road red/black and home whites) and team-appointed athletic shoes. His jersey bore the name "Benny" above the number "1" on the back. From 2004 to modern times, the pupils of his eyes have gotten larger. Benny sports several different costumes based on the theme of the game as well as his overall "mood". His collection consists of a traditional Santa suit, an Latin/salsa suit, a black and a white tuxedo for classy events, a grim reaper hood, multiple plaid jackets, a green version of the regular uniform along with a leprechaun outfit for St. Patrick's day (that also comes with his red fur switched to green, or for a recycling campaign), Elvis Presley garb, and a large amount of other appearances.
The man behind Benny's modern popularity is Barry Anderson. Since 2004, he has been around the globe performing as the red-furred character at multiple events. Barry's experience as a mascot began when he became Monte, the mascot of the University of Montana, in the early 2000s. His dancing, attitude, halfcourt shots, and his act of hurling himself into goalposts helped him and Monte become two-time champions of the Capital One National Mascot of the Year award. He majored in theater at the college and started his well-known dancing skills in a jazz dancing class. When he regularly attended Grizzly games with a friend, he says that "I tended to watch Monte more than the game, and I started thinking things like, 'You know what would be really funny is if he ran into the goalpost,' or 'He ought to dance with that person' or 'He ought to act like he's pinching the referee's butt right now.' I thought it'd be so fun to do it one time." When an ad in the student newspaper called for a mascot audition, his friend urged him to try out. Even though he could hardly see anything and was not fond of the smell, he danced for the judges and got the job. In 2004, he got a deal to become the mascot for the Chicago Bulls or the Detroit Pistons. He ultimately chose Chicago because of his love of live theater, jazz, and the atmosphere. The new look of Benny was made by the same company who created Monte's costume, and he was slimmed down to help Barry do his now famous dunks, flips, and dances. Barry attends one half of a Grizzly game as Benny every year alongside Monte and often visits (and sometimes brings to Chicago) his girlfriend, Sarah, and his daughter, Emma.
In other media
Benny was one of the many secret characters featured in the video game NBA Jam Tournament Edition. Along with him, three other NBA mascots appear in the game: the Phoenix Suns Gorilla, Charlotte Hornets' Hugo and Minnesota Timberwolves' Crunch.
The late punk musician Wesley Willis did a song about him called "Benny the Bull".
- "Benny the Bull Bio", NBA.com, accessed July 5, 2006.
- Freeman, Eric. "Benny the Bull is the most popular mascot in America, says Forbes". Retrieved 16 May 2013.
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