Bucky Badger: Mascot, Myth, Legend
Buckingham U. Badger is no ordinary mascot — he is a renaissance man (er, mustelid).
To students, alumni, and fans, the sweatered septuagenarian is the heartbeat of the University of Wisconsin, both friendly and feral depending on your home team allegiance.
Since 1949 — when Bill Sachse BBA1950, Carolyn “Connie” Conrad, and Bill Sagal BS1951 created a papier-mâché mascot head — dozens of students have brought Bucky Badger to life on and off the field. Before that, the Wisconsin Badgers (a moniker honoring the state nickname) were represented by various, mostly unnamed badgers, including a live specimen that was retired to Henry Vilas Zoo after committing unsportsmanlike conduct on the football field.
The Bucky Badger icon we recognize today — in motion with puffed-up chest and serious snarl — was created by California artist Art Evans in 1940, and spruced up by the UW in 2003.
But who is Bucky Badger?
Bucky is a top-notch athlete (While sharing mascot duties during a 2010 football game against Indiana, three students once did a combined 573 push-ups when Wisconsin won 84–0). He’s a legend among peers as a charter member of the Mascot Hall of Fame’s collegiate division.
Bucky’s school spirit cannot be judged by his size. Sometimes he’s small (from jewelry to tattoos, both temporary and permanent); sometimes tall (the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s inflatable badger measures 30 feet high.)
He’s a wedding crasher and an ambassador, appearing at hundreds of fundraisers and community events each year. And he knows how to travel in style, with experience driving both the Bucky Wagon and a camel.
Thanks to more than 70 years of attending a world-class university, Bucky Badger has enjoyed professional success as a band leader, a ballerina, and an ESPN employee. He tasted brief fame as a hip-hop mogul when the 2010 parody video Teach Me How to Bucky went viral. And he was name-checked on a hit TV show in 2013.
Bucky loves to dress up. He’s celebrated Homecoming as a pirate, a lumberjack, and a superhero. And the paper doll version, Flat Bucky, is known to pack a variety of costumes for his adventures to exotic locations with WAA members and travelers.
The art for the Badger Pride Wall was created for WAA by Madison illustrator Nate Koehler.