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Who Is Mario Based On?

Mario has been in the entertainment business for a long time. It's possible he started his career before you were born. After playing the hero in 1981's Donkey Kong, he went on to star in classics like Super Mario Bros.Super Mario WorldSuper Mario 64, and more recently, Super Mario Odyssey.


Whenever he features in a new project, he makes headlines. He counts a princess among his closest friends. But it may surprise you to learn that Mario isn't a real human at all. He's a video game character; the product of a conspiracy between artists at Nintendo to create a lovable, blue collar video game mascot. And his entire act is lifted from a a real human being; one who's had to watch as Mario's kept the limelight all to himself.

According to CNBC, the video game Mario wasn't even going to be called Mario at all. He originally went by the name Jumpman; nothing more than a second fiddle to the titular ape in Donkey Kong. But Nintendo executives insisted the character be given a better name, and over the course of the search, Nintendo artist Shigeru Miyamoto learned that workers at Nintendo's warehouse in Washington had already come up with a name of their own.


They called the character Mario, believing he looked like the warehouse's landlord, Mario Segale. Miyamoto liked the name, and soon enough, it stuck.

Dozens of games and countless awards later, Mario is the face of Nintendo. You can't enter a video game store without seeing a new Super Mario title or play a Rabbids game without Mario making his presence known. But what about Mario Segale? What about the property owner whose likeness and name helped catapult Mario's career to new heights?

Mario Segale passed away in 2018 at the age of 84, never once tasting the fame that Mario has come to take for granted. In fact, he largely stayed away from press, fearing association with a fast-driving, koopa-killing playboy like Mario could hurt his image.

So now you know the sad tale about who Mario is based on. There are a lot of fakes and phonies in entertainment. It seems Mario is no exception.