Western Kentucky mascot in Italian imbroglio

ROME (AP) — A multimillion dollar court case over a goofy red costume is raging between Western Kentucky University and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's media empire.

The Western Kentucky University mascot known as Big Red walks in downtown Rome on his way to a press conference.
Alessandra Tarantino, AP

The school argues that a hit satirical news show in Italy ripped off its bubbly sports mascot Big Red and turned it into a character called Gabibbo.

Western Kentucky and the company that licenses Big Red are suing Berlusconi's Mediaset company for $250 million, an estimate of how much Gabibbo has earned through "Striscia la Notizia," or "Slithering News," a book, a No. 1 album of songs and other enterprises.

Big Red and Gabibbo have hugely different roles: One hypes up the crowd at college sporting events; the other cracks wise and takes up consumer complaints from viewers on a Mediaset channel.

But the physical resemblance is there, in the giant red characters with gaping mouths, swollen bellies and dinner-plate white eyes.


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