The highest-paid NBA mascots in 2023 might surprise a number of fans. Although the average NBA mascot salary is about $60,000 annually, five are earning at least $100,000. Out of the 30 NBA teams, there are four clubs that still have not adopted a mascot — Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks. Check out the list below of the highest-paid NBA mascots in 2023.
5.) Hugo the Hornet (Charlotte Hornets mascot) — $100,000
Hugo is making $100,000 as the official mascot of the Charlotte Hornets. His costume was designed by Cheryl Henson — daughter of cartoonist and actor Jim Henson, and it was first unveiled in 1988. This was one year before Hurricane Hugo made landfall in the Carolinas.
More importantly, Hugo is a four-time winner of the NBA Mascot Slam Dunk Championship. Hugo is a two-time winner of the NBA Best Mascot Award by NBA Inside Stuff as well. Hugo and three other NBA mascots (Crunch the Wolf, Benny the Bull, and Go the Gorilla) appear in the NBA Jam Tournament Edition video game.
4.) Go the Gorilla (Phoenix Suns mascot) — $200,000
Next, Go the Gorilla is earning an annual salary of $200,000 as the official mascot of the Phoenix Suns. For the first 11 years of their franchise history, the Suns played without a mascot.
In 1980, a singing telegram named Henry Rojas from Eastern Onion Telegram service was sent to Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in a gorilla costume.
Although security told Rojas to stay away, Rojas continued to attend Suns games in his gorilla costume. He then became known as “Go the Gorilla” and was asked to become the team’s mascot.
3.) Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls mascot) — $400,000
Furthermore, Benny the Bull is making $400,000 annually as the Chicago Bulls mascot. He’s the third highest-paid NBA mascot. Benjamin T. “Benny” Bull has been the mascot of the Bulls for more than 50 years first at Chicago Stadium (1969-94), and now at the United Center (1994-present).
Wesley Willis released a two-minute song in 1995 about the mascot titled “Benny the Bull.” The modern version of Benny receives a large salary because of his popularity and acrobatic skills.
Dating back to the 90s, he’s almost as famous as Michael Jordan. Benny loves dancing, performing dunk tricks, shooting half-court shots, and banging on his drum.
2.) Harry the Hawk (Atlanta Hawks mascot) — $600,000
Additionally, Harry the Hawk earns an annual salary of $600,000 as the Atlanta Hawks mascot. Harry the Hawk made his official debut on Oct. 25, 1986. He’s best known for injuring himself, which might help explain his popularity and six-figure salary.
Harry can be found at State Farm Arena for home games and at the organization’s community events throughout the year. Skyhawk was the name of another Atlanta mascot. Unlike Harry, Skyhawk was more athletic and would perform crazy dunks for fans. The College Park Skyhawks are the Atlanta Hawks’ NBA G League affiliate.
1.) Rocky the Mountain Lion (Denver Nuggets mascot) — $625,000
Lastly, Rocky the Mountain Lion is the official mascot of the Denver Nuggets and is the highest-paid NBA mascot in 2023. Rocky is earning an annual salary of $625,000. That’s over 10 times higher than the average salary for an NBA mascot.
Rocky the Mountain Lion made his debut at McNichols Sports Arena on Dec. 15, 1990. Kenn Solomon was the first mascot until his retirement in 2021. He was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2008.
Drake Solomon, his son, replaced him. Rocky is best known for interacting with fans and performing acrobatic dunks and insane tricks, such as backward half-court shots. During one game, he was spotted standing next to a referee while wearing a “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt.