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The man behind the mascots

Dave Raymond, right, with Clutch, the mascot for the Houston Rockets basketball team. Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images

Dave Raymond is “far and away the most influential person in the mascot world”, says Max Rubin in The New York Times. Nine out of 10 US sports teams have mascots, and Raymond has had a hand in designing 130 over 40 years. The 65-year-old spent 17 years performing as the “iconic” Phillie Phanatic, a lumpy green birdlike creature he created for the Philadelphia Phillies basketball team. “His work was such a revelation that it not only established the industry standard, it basically established the industry.”

In 2018 Raymond opened the “unabashedly ridiculous” $18m Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Indiana, a museum that doubles as the home of Mascot Boot Camp. Here Raymond puts a chicken, a grizzly bear, two aliens, a tiger, the sun and “some sort of human-wave hybrid named Crimson Joe” through their paces, pumping their fists and doing the worm.

Read the full article here.

Messi turns paper into gold

Eric Alonso/Getty Images

The tissue Lionel Messi used to dry his eyes at his farewell Barcelona press conference is being auctioned for $1m. The tissue was taken off the floor by a man sitting in the front row and listed online, says the Daily Star. It’s not the first time the Argentine superstar has inflated the cost of a humble piece of paper. In 2000, when he was just 13, Messi signed his first Barcelona contract for a cool £40,000 a year, written on a restaurant napkin.

The club’s technical director, Charly Rexach, made up his mind after rival suitors Real Madrid were mentioned at lunch with Messi’s father, Jorge. “I decided to sign him on a paper napkin that a waiter gave me, because I couldn’t let him get away,” he told ESPN.