Mario’s Origins

Super Mario

My kids got a kick out of this: Mario (of Nintendo Super Mario fame) is named after a real man. shares in “The True Face of Mario” that the character developed for the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong went from being called Jumpman to Mario after Mario Segale, a real estate developer in Washington state. Benj Edwards writes:

Segale unwittingly stepped into video game history by renting out a warehouse that served as Nintendo’s U.S. headquarters in the early 1980s. At that time, a financially struggling Nintendo of America (NOA) was preparing the U.S. launch of Donkey Kong. Legend has it that NOA President Minoru Arakawa noticed physical similarities between Donkey Kong’s short, dark-haired protagonist and the landlord. So the crew at NOA nicknamed the character Mario, and it stuck.

Mario Segale in his 1952 high school yearbook photo.

Mr. Segale, now in his 70s, and Nintendo don’t publicize the connection. In 1993, the Seattle Times reported this:

So what does Segale think of his name being used for a game that has sold more than 100 million copies and made Nintendo one of the world’s most profitable companies, not to mention the Super Mario Bros. movie just released?

“You might say I’m still waiting for my royalty checks,” he quips.

Super Mario photo credit: Undeleterious (

Mario Segale photo credit:

About Melissa W. Sais

I am a freelance writer, copywriter, ghostwriter and blogger. Contact me for your next creative project.
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