Izzy (mascot)

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Izzy (Atlanta 1996).png
Mascot of the 1996 Summer Olympics (Atlanta)
CreatorJohn Ryan
SignificanceNamed after the short term for Whatizit ("What is it?"), an alien

Izzy was the official mascot of the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics. Initially named Whatizit ("What is it?") at its introduction at the close of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the animated character with the ability to morph into different forms was a departure from the Olympic tradition in that it did not represent a nationally significant animal or human figure.[citation needed]


Conception and introduction at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics[edit]

Then-Speaker Newt Gingrich posing with Izzy at Georgia Tech.

In 1991, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) began a search for a mascot with a competition of twenty design firms as well as suggestions from the general public.[1] The selection, Whatizit, was designed by John Ryan, senior animation director of Atlanta-based design firm DESIGNefx.[2] [3] Whatizit originally appeared as a blue, tear-shaped "blob" with rings around his eyes and tail. He wore high-top sneakers and had star-shaped pupils. His arms and legs were also short with a toothy grin showing both rows of teeth. He was later modified to have longer limbs to give a more athletic look.

After a very critical reception to Whatizit's introduction during the closing ceremonies of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, ACOG began work to reshape the character specifically focusing on children, who were far more attracted to the character than adults.

In addition to renaming him "Izzy", several changes were made to the mascot's appearance including losing the bottom row of teeth, adding a nose, making the tongue visible, and making the limbs longer, skinnier, and more athletic.[citation needed]

Izzy's Quest for Olympic Gold[edit]

Izzy's Quest for Olympic Gold
GenreSports, Comedy
Production companyFilm Roman
Original networkTNT
Cartoon Network
Original releaseAugust 12, 1995 (1995-08-12) –
August 4, 1996 (1996-08-04)

ACOG commissioned an animated television special entitled "Izzy's Quest For Olympic Gold" to promote Izzy and expand his backstory. Produced by Film Roman, the special debuted on TNT on August 12, 1995.[4] Long considered to be lost media, a VHS recording was discovered and uploaded to YouTube in December 2020.[5]

Media ridicule[edit]

Despite continued efforts to evolve his look, Izzy proved very unpopular; a range of nicknames appeared in media outlets, such as "The Sperm in Sneakers."[6] Busch Gardens Williamsburg, a theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia, named a new Wild Mouse roller coaster after the mascot, but the name has since been changed. A popular joke that circulated in Atlanta around the end of the 1996 games stated that the blue line painted on Peachtree Road (which actually designated the route for the Olympic Marathon) was "Izzy's ass being dragged out of town."[7]

Izzy was referenced in "The Old Man and the 'C' Student", an episode of The Simpsons. It was not referred to as Izzy, though, rather being referred to as "the Atlanta Whatsit".[citation needed]

Video games[edit]

Izzy served as the player's character in a video game titled Izzy's Quest for the Olympic Rings,[8] released in 1995 by U.S. Gold for the Super NES and Genesis platforms.[9] An adventure game entitled Izzy's Adventure was released for PC in 1996.[10]


  1. ^ The Official Report Of The Centennial Olympic Games (PDF). Peachtree Publishers. 1997. p. 130. ISBN 1-56145-150-9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-28.
  2. ^ Levine, Felicia (1996-08-06). "Dizzy Izzy isn't busy, is he?". South Florida Business Journal. Retrieved 2007-06-20.
  3. ^ Atlanta Remembers the Cultural Olympiad: The man behind Izzy comes clean about what wuz it, Gavin Godfrey, ARTSATL, 20 July 2016.
  4. ^ Kowalski, Frankie (1996). "The Great Adventures of Izzy--An Olympic Hero for Kids". Animation World Magazine. Retrieved 2007-06-20.
  5. ^ "Izzy's Quest for Olympic Gold (found animated TV special; 1995)". Lost Media Wiki. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  6. ^ Rovell, Darren. "More marketing disaster than success". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  7. ^ Speirs, Doug (27 July 2017). "Give me a what? Sorry, not all Games mascots are cheer-worthy". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  8. ^ "ProReview: Izzy's Quest for the Olympic Rings". GamePro. IDG (69): 46. April 1995.
  9. ^ "Izzy's Quest for the Olympic Rings". Moby Games. Retrieved 2007-06-20.
  10. ^ "Izzy's Adventure (found PC educational adventure game; 1996) - The Lost Media Wiki". lostmediawiki.com. Retrieved 2020-03-01.

External links[edit]

  • [1] photograph of Izzy, on a mascot manufacturer website.
  • [2] A site devoted to Izzy pins.
Preceded by
Håkon and Kristin
Olympic mascot

Atlanta 1996
Succeeded by
Sukki, Nokki, Lekki and Tsukki