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14 Fun Facts about the Orange’s Hall of Famer Mascot

From zesty beginnings to Hall of Fame glory, learn about Otto the Orange’s journey to superstardom.
Otto the orange cheering outside the Mascot Hall of Fame.

On Aug. 12, Otto the Orange officially entered the world of sports legends as an inductee of the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Indiana. Otto secured the coveted spot by collecting more than 19,000 votes from 67 countries in two weeks of online balloting and the support of the Hall’s membership and executive committee. Perhaps it was no surprise to Otto that the Orange Nation global fan base stretches from South Africa to Finland, Chile to Canada, New Zealand to South Korea.

Vintage Otto the orange mascot cheering inside of stadium.

Otto was joined at the ceremony by fellow inductee Slugger of minor league baseball’s Portland Sea Dogs. The pair topped 16 other nominees to attain the lofty status that they’ll share with such Hall luminaries as the Phillie Phanatic, Mr. Met and Bucky Badger.

The ever-lovable orange bested three Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) rivals—Georgia Tech’s Buzz the bee, North Carolina’s Rameses the ram, and the Duke Blue Devil—on the ballot and is now one of only nine collegiate Hall of Famers and the sole ACC mascot to reach the elite echelon.

“Nearly 100 Syracuse alums have given countless hours and amounts of energy to bringing Otto to life and developing such an impactful and recognizable character,” says Julie Walas ’07, G’13, an Otto alum and coach of the mascot program. “I couldn’t be more grateful for all of their hard work and dedication, or prouder for all of us Syracuse fans for this amazing recognition—what an incredible honor to get the call from the Mascot Hall of Fame this year.”

Get to Know Otto

Vintage Otto the orange mascot standing outside with cheerleaders.

Otto’s journey to the summit of mascot superstardom began more than four decades ago. Here are some fun facts and highlights of the spirited orange’s illustrious career.

1: The Orange's Origin Story Starts in the ’80s

Otto first appeared on the Syracuse sidelines in the early ’80s and became the Orange’s official mascot in 1995.

2: Mascot Competition Steps In During the ’90s

Students rallied to support Otto in 1995 after a University committee recommended a wolf be adopted. Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw scrapped the wolf and embraced the fun-loving orange. “I am convinced that the majority opinion on and off campus favors retaining the orange,” he said.

Vintage Otto the orange mascot standing inside of stadium.

3: It Took a Little Time to Land on the Name: Clyde, Woody and Finally Otto

Early Otto changed costumes and names a couple times. First known as Clyde and then Woody, Otto emerged as the moniker for the spherical citrus in 1990.

4: The Secret-Keepers Behind the Fuzz Walk Amongst Us

A group of 10-12 student-athletes—who keep their identities anonymous—shares the responsibilities of the smiling, wide-eyed fuzzy ball throughout the year as Team Otto.

Vintage Otto the orange mascot standing with cheerleaders.

5: There are Fitness Requirements

The orange costume weighs about 10 pounds. Team Otto members need to be in tip-top shape for all those zany antics and work on their conditioning with an athletics department strength and conditioning coach.

6: They're Second in Obstacle Courses but First in Our Hearts

Otto placed second in the 2005 Monster Mascot Challenge at the NCAA Final Four in St. Louis, a competition that featured an obstacle course to test agility.

Vintage Otto the orange mascot standing inside with cheerleaders.

7: Otto Makes Plenty of Public Appearances

Along with running, cheering, dancing, somersaulting, swapping high fives, directing the band and tangling with rival mascots on game days, the exuberant Orange ambassador is always happy to meet kids and enjoys spreading cheer at birthday parties, weddings, community events, schools and fundraisers.

8: They Love Good Transportation Options

Otto can skillfully pilot a scooter and pedal an orange bicycle with a basket, and really loves a good golf-cart ride.

9: Consider Otto Celebrity-Adjacent

Otto has hobnobbed with many famous folks and celebrities, including Orange basketball great Carmelo Anthony, late-night funny guy Jimmy Fallon, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Joe Biden L’68, H’09.

Otto the orange mascot cheering during a game in the JMA Wireless Dome.

10: The Mascot Has Racked Up the Miles

While Otto’s at home in the JMA Wireless Dome, the joyful cheerleader has traveled to such destinations as San Diego (Battle on the Midway), the Bahamas (Battle 4 Atlantis), Indianapolis (2016 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four), Scotland (30th anniversary of Lockerbie Air Disaster), Hawaii (1990 Aloha Bowl), Vancouver, British Columbia (Capital One College Mascot Challenge) and even Japan (1989 Coca-Cola Bowl as Woody).

11: Otto Keeps the Hype Squad Well-Fed

When Otto’s Army camps out at the JMA Dome before a big basketball game, Otto has generously delivered cookies and other goods to sustain the troops.

Otto the orange mascot standing with a picture of itself.

12: Their Social Media Clout is Impressive

As a social media maven, Otto documents mascot life for nearly 30,000 followers on Instagram, 9,700 on X (formerly Twitter) and 8,600 on Facebook. “I’m so honored, I can’t believe I get to be in the Mascot Hall of Fame!” Otto posted on Facebook.

13: Nothing Gets in the Way of a Little Mischief

The playful prankster is fond of April Fool’s Day jokes. In 2021, Otto shared breaking news with Twitter followers that they had committed to Georgetown. In 2022, the mischievous citrus announced they would enter the transfer portal, noting “Florida is a ‘strong option’ as the Orange looks to be closer to family.”

Otto the orange mascot cheering during a game in the JMA Wireless Dome.

14: The Orange Looks Great on the Big (and Small) Screen

ESPN named the ebullient orange the “Best Mascot in the ACC” in 2016, and Otto has showcased their Orange appeal in several ESPN commercials over the years. But the ever-upbeat mascot appears rather unnerved observing members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team feasting on orange slices in a recent ESPN commercial.

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