Mario Segale

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Mario Segale
Mario Segale 2016.jpg
Segale in 2016
Born(1934-04-30)April 30, 1934
DiedOctober 27, 2018(2018-10-27) (aged 84)
OccupationBusinessman, real estate developer
Years active1950–2018
Donna Segale (m. 1957)

Mario Arnold Segale (April 30, 1934 – October 27, 2018) was an American businessman and real estate developer.[1] He was involved in various development projects in the Seattle area from the 1950s onwards.[2] Nintendo's Mario character was named after him while his company was renting a warehouse to Nintendo.[3][4]

Business career[edit]

Segale was born in Seattle to two Italian immigrants, Louis and Rina Segale, and was their only child.[5][6] He graduated from Highline High School in 1952[7] and started a construction company with a single truck in 1957, the same year that he married his wife Donna. The couple worked to develop a privately-owned asphalt and construction business, M. A. Segale Inc., which grew into a major regional contractor and was sold for $60 million in 1998 to Irish concern CRH plc, for integration into its Oldcastle Materials unit.[8]

Segale and his son Mark were involved in other ventures, including real estate investments in the Seattle area. His company sold the land rights to the Emerald Downs racetrack in Auburn to the Muckleshoot tribe in 1996 for $73.6 million. Segale was also heavily involved in Tukwila-area projects, including a 490-acre (2.0 km2) development project called Tukwila South in the 2010s.[9][10]

Nintendo Mario series legacy[edit]

Nintendo began renting one of Segale's Tukwila warehouses in 1981 for use as their American headquarters. During development of an arcade title that would become Donkey Kong, Segale visited the warehouse to collect overdue rent from Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa and berated him in front of employees. According to a widely circulated story, Arakawa and the other developers subsequently immortalized Segale by renaming the star of Donkey Kong, previously known as "Jumpman", to "Mario".[3][11]

This story was first published in David Sheff's 1993 book Game Over (however, because of a spelling error in this 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.[11][12] In 2015, Nintendo confirmed that their Mario character is indeed named after Segale.[4] For his part, Segale was largely reticent about the subject, quipping to The Seattle Times in a rare interview in 1993, "You might say I'm still waiting for my royalty checks."[11]

Political activities[edit]

A 2004 study by the Seattle Times found that Segale was one of the top 50 political contributors in the state of Washington.[13] Overall, Mario and Mark Segale donated more than $90,000 to Democratic Party candidates and organizations between 2000 and 2007.[9] 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.[9]


Segale died from unspecified causes on October 27, 2018, at his home in Tukwila, Washington, aged 84.[3] He was survived by his wife Donna Segale, four children – Lisa Atkins, Mark Segale, Tina Covey and Nita Johnson – and nine grandchildren.[3][6]


  1. ^ "Bill Gates' Big Water Bill". ABC News.
  2. ^ Pryne, Eric (March 27, 2010). "Powerful Segale family has massive vision for Tukwila expanse". The Seattle Times.
  3. ^ a b c d Zraick, Karen (November 2, 2018). "Mario Segale, Developer Who Inspired Nintendo to Name Super Mario, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Mario Myths with Mr Miyamoto". YouTube. Nintendo UK. September 10, 2015. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  5. ^ Chappell, Bill (November 2, 2018). "Mario Segale, Inspiration For Nintendo's Hero Plumber, Has Died". NPR. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Mario A. Segale". Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  7. ^ Edwards, Benj (April 25, 2010). "The True Face of Mario". Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  8. ^ Jones, Dow (May 2, 1998). "Company news; Ireland's CRH agrees to buy Segale for $60 million". The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Garber, Andrew (August 19, 2007). "From sports complex to roads, lawmakers' pet projects on rise". The Seattle Times.
  10. ^ Whale, Robert (November 1, 2018). "Mario 'the visionary' leaves his legacy". Auburn Reporter. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Edwards, Benj (April 25, 2010). "The True Face of Mario". Technologizer. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  12. ^ Kent, Steven L. (2001). The ultimate history of video games : from Pong to Pokemon, the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world (1st ed.). Roseville, Calif.: Prima. p. 159. ISBN 0761536434.
  13. ^ "Washington's top 50 political contributors in 2003-04" (PDF). The Seattle Times. July 25, 2004. p. A19.