RIP Tukwila's Mario Segale, Inspiration for the Name "Super Mario"

Nintendo Were Stumped About American Names

November 6, 2018
It's Mario!

by Jon Sakura/Gamers Anonymous

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I had no idea that the dude who inspired the name for Super Mario lived here in Washington. (Super) Mario Segale, a hardworking Tukwila construction and real estate company owner, sadly left this plane at the age of 84. 

Back around 1980, Mario rented a warehouse space to Nintendo as they sought to expand to the US. Legend has it that the creative brains were struggling to come up with western names for the characters in soon-to-be-released Donkey Kong.

"They were stuck on the character of a squat carpenter wearing a red cap when there was a knock on the door.

It was Mr. Segale, who had come to berate Minoru Arakawa, then the president of Nintendo of America, for being past due on the rent.

Mr. Arakawa was already under great pressure to succeed, and Mr. Segale 'blasted him' in front of everyone, Mr. Sheff wrote. A flustered Mr. Arakawa vowed that Mr. Segale would get his money soon.

And as soon as he left, Mr. Sheff wrote, the team knew it had its name: 'Super Mario!'"

Though Super Mario was the protagonist to Donkey Kong's antagonism, in this initial game he only shines at a fraction of what he would later become. Even if unwittingly, Segale inspired more than a generation to follow a video game plumber on wild, big-hearted adventures. 

He did break his silence in 1993, shortly after the story of Mario’s naming was published in Mr. Sheff’s book. The Seattle Times asked Mr. Segale what he thought about his name being used in a game that was so hugely popular.

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

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