DENVER (KDVR) – Eyebrows across the country are rising in unison after a list of the highest-paid NBA mascots was released, revealing that Rocky, the Denver Nugget’s high-soaring mountain lion, may make more than half a million dollars a year.
The Sports Business Journal released a list of the five highest-paid mascots working in the NBA, and Rocky tops that list. And while the $650,000 that SBJ says the performer makes may seem extreme, a recent poll by sports betting site PlayAz had Rocky named the favorite mascot by NBA fans.
Still, SBJ reported that Rocky’s pay is 10 times the average salary of an NBA mascot.
The Nuggets wouldn’t comment on that when asked by FOX31, but a page on the team’s website lists rental rates for people seeking a visit from Rocky.
The standard rate is $750 an hour, while corporate partners get a slight cut of the rate down to $500. If you wanted to have Rocky come to a birthday party, it would cost you $400 for a 30-minute visit or $750 for an hour. The most affordable way to meet Rocky is for an in-game visit, which will set season pass holders back $135, or non-pass holders $150.
Those rates include costs beyond the performer’s income, but if half of the standard rate goes to Rocky himself he would need to work more than 32 hours a week to reach the $625,000 reported by SBJ.
Top 5 highest paid NBA mascots
Here are the salaries of the most paid mascots according to a study released by SBJ:
1.) $625K: Rocky the Mountain Lion (Denver Nuggets)
2.) $600K: Harry the Hawk (Atlanta Hawks)
3.) $400K: Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls)
4.) $200K: Go the Gorilla (Phoenix Suns)
5.) $100K: Hugo the Hornet (Charlotte Hornets)
While it isn’t public information who is wearing the Rocky costume, FOX31 believes that mascot is being kept within a family of performers after seeing multiple people don the costume recently at various Nuggets events and games.
The potential reasoning behind this anonymity was touched on when Bernard Goldberg of HBO’s Real Sports visited the 2010 Milwaukee Mascot Camp and noticed that some of those participating refused to take off their mascot heads.
“[Some] mascots aren’t allowed to show their face, or talk, because at their particular [institutions] that’s against the mascot code of conduct,” Goldberg explained.
What is known, however, is who wore the suit before the current performer. According to Mascot U, back in the fall of 1990 while living in Denver and working as an intern for Rocky Mountain News, Kenn Solomon was chosen to be Denver Nuggets’ mascot.
Once again, the team would not comment on who is under the mask, but FOX31 reporters at games and other events have seen multiple people donning the costume. It is believed the role is being kept within the family though, possibly with Solomon’s son taking at least some of the time.
So next time you head on out to Ball Arena to watch the Nuggets when the new season tips off, be sure to take in some of the high-energy performance put on by what might be the highest-paid costume wearer in the entire league.