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Here's How Mario Got His Name

Long before "It's-a me, Mario!" introduced us to Super Mario 64, Nintendo's most recognizable mascot didn't have a name. Executives at Nintendo had thrown out his previous title — Jumpman — and were on the search for something new. But the search wasn't going well.


That is, until a man named Mario Segale came into the picture.

As legend has it, Mario Segale was a real estate developer who owned the Washintgon warehouse Nintendo once used as a headquarters. He could occasionally be seen around the property, and happened to be present one day to collect some overdue rent when Nintendo employees — while watching Segale yell at then Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa — noticed similarities between Segale and Nintendo's newest video game character. Nintendo developers started calling the character Mario, and the name soon stuck.

Decades later, you can't enter a video game store without seeing dozens of Super Mario titles. Mario is arguably the most well-known video game character in existence. But what of Mr. Segale, who by all accounts inspired the character's name?


Mario Segale stayed in the real estate business, becoming quite successful in that line of work despite doing everything he could to keep his life private. He didn't speak publicly very often and, when he did, it was rarely about Nintendo. To give you a sense of how quiet Mr. Segale was about the story tying him to Nintendo's video game character, one of his only recorded remarks on the topic came in 1993, when he stated, "You might say I'm still waiting for my royalty checks."

Unfortunately, we won't get the opportunity to press Segale further on how it felt to have such an enormous video game icon named after him. Mario Segale passed away in late 2018 at the age of 84, taking all of his answers to any Mario-related questions with him.