Minor league baseball team’s Ozempig mascot irks fans; officials brush off criticism

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A minor league baseball affiliate of the Minnesota Twins started the 2024 season off a little hotter than expected even before it had a chance to throw out a first pitch.

The St. Paul Saints, who play in the International League, named their living, breathing pig mascot Ozempig after the popular weight loss drug Ozempic

Not everyone thought it was a home run. The Saints received criticism almost immediately after announcing the name last weekend, and some see it as fat shaming.

Sean Aronson, the Saints’ vice president and media relations director, told The Associated Press Friday the organization was only trying to name its mascot something amusing and topical when it chose Ozempig. Aronson said officials were stunned many found the name offensive.

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Ozempig for the Saints

This photo provided by the St. Paul Saints shows a pig named Ozempig March 28 at a farm in Wisconsin. (St. Paul Saints Baseball  via AP)

“In today’s world, people don’t want to be diminished, they don’t want to be made to feel a certain way, and I’m not going to tell them how they feel is wrong,” he said. “But I can tell you there was no ill intent. There was no maliciousness. There was never even a discussion in the room when we were going over the name that, ‘Hey, this may offend some people.’”

Fans were mostly upset over its backstory — the pig’s embarrassment at gaining weight and its effort at staying trim.

The Saints, part of the independent American Association from 2006 to 2020 before entering the minor league baseball system, are accustomed to wild promotions. Fun usually comes second nature to the teams.

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In 2013, the Saints played a game without umpires. Instead, a judge called pitches behind the plate, and a jury of Little Leaguers umpired first and third with the judge able to overrule them.

St. Paul Saints' in 2013

The St. Paul Saints’ baseball home opener against the New Jersey Jackals in 2013. (Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

The organization clowned Anthony Weiner over his sexting scandal in 2011 with the first 1,501 fans 18 years or older receiving “Tweeting Weiner Boxer Shorts.”

Crash Davis, Kevin Costner’s character in the beloved baseball movie “Bull Durham,” may have said it best.

“This game’s fun, OK? It’s fun godd—–.”

Saints fans came to the defense of the team, and Aronson said he understood where other people’s positions were rooted. But the name of the pig isn’t changing.

“We knew how we originally came up with the name, and we’re good with it. But we did discuss it and decided we’re going to keep it,” he added.

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The Saints were scheduled to begin the season Friday night but weather postponed it. The team will play the Columbus Clippers Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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