One of the most recognizable mascots in professional sports is Benny the Bull. However, if you want to become a world-known mascot, you have to be unique. The history of the Chicago Bulls mascot contains over 50 years of cheering, dancing, animating, and in the modern days – arresting.
Dan LeMonnier had the longest stint in the Benny the Bull costume. From 1985 to 2004, Benny gained recognition thanks to the popularity of Michael Jordan. Bulls became a global phenomenon, and that jump-started Benny’s relevance in the mascot world. But as soon as the Jordan era ended, Benny the Bull had to reinvent himself to remain relevant. So he gained some company – Lil’ Benny, Minny Benny, and his angry brother Da Bull. Unfortunately, Chester Brewster, the man who played Da Bull, took the role a little too seriously. In 2004, Brewster was arrested near the United Center for selling six ounces of marijuana from his car and charged for delivery. Later he received probation.
After LeMonnier retired, it was time to find another Benny the Bull guy, and the Chicago Bulls hired Barry Anderson, who had an admirable CV for the job. Anderson was a theater and a dance student and former mascot at the University of Montana. Anderson popularized acrobatics and trampoline dunks, but like Brewster, he had troubles with the law. In 2006 he was charged with misdemeanor battery and driving within a parkway. More precisely, Anderson was accused of attacking an off-duty police officer and drove his mini-motorcycle through Grant Park. The charges were dropped later. That, however, wasn’t Anderson’s only foul.
A Naperville dentist claimed Benny the Bull injured his arm during a powerful high-five. He even sued him, but the suit was settled in the end. In 2017, another incident – a United Center worker accused Benny of injuring his ankle, but the worker eventually dismissed the claim. Anderson said that the understudy was in the costume at the time and not him.
In 2017 Anderson retired, but Benny the Bull continued animating the crowd, just not as vigilant as before.
Today, Benny is dunking the ball, dancing, bowling, waving the flag, and keeping the legend alive. For his epic (on court) performances, Benny was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in Indiana.