Mario Segale

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Mario A. Segale (Born 1934-1935?) is an American businessman and real estate developer.[1] He has been involved in various development projects in the Seattle area since the 1950s.[2] He is widely known in popular culture as the source of the name of Nintendo's Mario character.[3]

Business successes[edit]

Segale's firm M.A. Segale Inc., a privately owned asphalt and construction business, sold for $60 million in 1998 to Irish concern CRH plc, for integration into its Oldcastle Materials unit.[4] Segale and his son Mark Segale are involved in other ventures, including development of a 490-acre (2.0 km2) development in Tukwila, Washington.[5]

Nintendo Mario series legacy[edit]

In 1981, Nintendo was renting one of Segale's warehouses to use as their American headquarters. The company struggled at first, but was preparing for a major breakthrough in the North American release of a new arcade game, Donkey Kong. According to a widely circulated story, around this time, the company had gotten behind in a rent payment, prompting an angry visit from their landlord, Segale. After some heated words, Segale eventually accepted Nintendo of America President Minoru Arakawa's promise that the rent would be paid soon, and left. According to the story, Arakawa and the other developers subsequently immortalized Segale by renaming the star of Donkey Kong, previously known as "Jumpman", to "Mario".[3][6]

This story was first published in David Sheff's 1993 book Game Over (however, because of a spelling error in the aforementioned book, for years it was thought his last name was spelled Segali), and later appeared in Steven L. Kent's The Ultimate History of Video Games in 2001. It thereafter spread widely on the Internet.[6][7] Nintendo has never confirmed that their Mario character is indeed named for Segale. For his part, Segale has been largely reticent about the subject, quipping to the Seattle Times in a rare interview, "You might say I’m still waiting for my royalty checks."[6]

Notable political contribution history[edit]

A 2004 study by the Seattle Times found that Segale was one of the top 50 political contributors in Washington State.[8] Overall, Segale and his son Mark donated more than $90,000 to Democratic candidates and organizations between 2000 and 2007.[5] Some of these contributions were to elected officials who worked to secure state legislative earmarks for roads in a privately owned development proposed by a Segale company.[5]

References[edit]