Otto the Orange

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Otto the Orange
Logo version of Otto the Orange
University Syracuse University
Conference ACC
Description Anthropomorphic orange
First seen 1980

Otto the Orange is the mascot for the Syracuse Orange, the athletic teams of Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, USA. Otto is an anthropomorphic orange, wearing a large blue hat and blue pants. Otto can usually be seen at Syracuse sporting events in the Carrier Dome and other university sporting events.


Saltine Warrior[edit]

The Syracuse mascot was originally a Native American character named "The Saltine Warrior" (Syracuse's unofficial nickname is the Salt City) and "Big Chief Bill Orange".[1] The character was born out of a hoax in which it was claimed that a 16th-century Onondogan Indian chief was unearthed while digging the foundation for the women's gymnasium in 1928.

In the mid-1950s, the father of a Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brother owned a cheerleading camp. He made a Saltine Warrior costume for his son to wear at SU football games. Thus began a nearly forty-year tradition of Lambda Chi brothers serving as SU's mascot. In 1990 however the University opened up the mascot traditions to the entire student body (Daily Orange, February 22, 1990).

In 1978, Native American students successfully petitioned the University to discontinue the Saltine Warrior, citing the mascot's stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans. During the 1978 season, the University introduced a Roman gladiator dressed in orange armor, but the idea proved largely unpopular among fans, who regularly booed the mascot.[1]

Otto becomes official[edit]

Otto the Orange, 2013

In the summer of 1990, the cheerleaders and mascots were at a UCA Cheerleading Camp in Tennessee and the students who were chosen to suit up in the costume narrowed the field down to two potential names -- "Opie" and "Otto"—as a new orange costume was made. It was concluded that the name "Opie" would lead to the inevitable rhyme with 'dopey', and settled on "Otto." Later that fall, word got out that the cheerleaders were calling the latest mascot costume Otto, and the name stuck.[1][2]

For 17 years the university did not settle on an "official" mascot until the chancellor appointed a group of students and faculty to create a mascot and logo. University administration considered introducing a new mascot (a wolf or lion were likely candidates), but the student body supported Otto. He was recognized as the official mascot of Syracuse University by 1995.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Syracuse University Athletics. "SU's Mascot". Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Messinger, Mitch (2007-04-02). "Letter to the editor: 'Otto the Orange' coined in 1992". Daily Orange. Retrieved 15 November 2009.