Otto the Orange

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Otto the Orange
Otto the orange.png
Logo version of Otto the Orange
UniversitySyracuse University
DescriptionAnthropomorphic Sphere of the color orange (color)
First seen1980

Otto the Orange is the mascot for the Syracuse Orange, the athletic teams of Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, USA. Otto is an anthropomorphism of the color orange and represents the fruit the 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.

Mascot History[edit]

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).

Otto the Orange, 2013

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]

In the 1980s, a new Syracuse University mascot emerged and was described as a "juiced-up, bumbling citrus fruit from which two legs protrude", and quickly became popular on campus.[2] In the summer of 1990, the cheerleaders and mascots were at 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][3]

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][4]

In 2016, Otto was named in the top-10 mascots in college football by Sports Illustrated.[5]

Social Media[edit]

Vintage logo of Otto the Orange

In general, most of Otto’s social media activity happens through pictures and videos. Additionally, he frequently retweets or shares other University pages in order to promote sports games, events such as the career fair, and instilling pride in SU fans. Otto the Orange is active on social networks such as Instagram,[6] Twitter,[7] and Facebook.[8] In 2006, a video of a fight between Otto the Orange and the Hokiebird was spread, with many speculating that the fight was the result of pent up anger between the two actors portraying the characters. It was not until 2019 that the person who portrayed Otto at the time confirmed that this was a simulated fight.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d Syracuse University Athletics. "SU's Mascot". Retrieved 15 November 2009.
  2. ^ Croyle, Johnathan (2017-11-10). "Evolution of Syracuse University's Otto the Orange (vintage photos)". Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  3. ^ Messinger, Mitch (2007-04-02). "Letter to the editor: 'Otto the Orange' coined in 1992". Daily Orange. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
  4. ^ "Syracuse's Otto the Orange ranked No. 8 best mascot in college football". The Daily Orange - The Independent Student Newspaper of Syracuse, New York. 2016-09-07. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  5. ^ Axe, Brent (2016-09-06). "Sports Illustrated ranks Otto the Orange as a Top 10 mascot in college football". Retrieved 2019-06-29.
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