‘Ozempig’ remains Minnesota baseball team’s mascot despite uproar that name is form of fat-shaming

This photo provided by the St. Paul Saints shows a pig named Ozempig on Thursday, March 28, at a farm in Wisconsin. Some people have criticized the Minnesota team's decision to name the pig after the weight loss drug Ozempic, saying the play on words belittles people who are overweight. (St. Paul Saints Baseball via AP)

This photo provided by the St. Paul Saints shows a pig named Ozempig on Thursday, March 28, at a farm in Wisconsin. Some people have criticized the Minnesota team’s decision to name the pig after the weight loss drug Ozempic, saying the play on words belittles people who are overweight. (St. Paul Saints Baseball via AP)

For a Minnesota minor league baseball team known for a history of outlandish promotions, the idea of naming its longtime live pig mascot after the weight loss drug Ozempic made perfect sense.

The St. Paul Saints quickly found out that not everyone was amused by the pig’s name, Ozempig, or the team’s posting of a backstory about the pig’s embarrassment at gaining weight and promise to try to remain trim.

Almost immediately after the team announced the name this week ahead of Saturday’s opening day game, criticism began pouring in on social media from people distressed by the name, calling it hurtful and insensitive.

Sean Aronson, the Saints’ vice president and media relations director, said the team only wanted an amusing, topical name for its pig when it chose Ozempig from nearly 2,300 entries in its “Name the Pig Contest.” Team officials were shocked that so many people found the name offensive, Aronson said.

“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,” Aronson 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.”

Ozempic is among several new drugs that been effective at helping people lose significant weight. The drugs can be expensive, depending on insurance coverage, but have drawn extensive attention in part because the have been promoted by celebrities and on social media sites.

The Saints’ pig is a beloved participant in the team’s games played at CHS Field in downtown St. Paul, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the much larger home of the Minnesota Twins in downtown Minneapolis. The animal carries out balls to the umpire and over the course of the summer becomes noticeably larger — so much larger in fact that another young pig takes over duties midway through the season.

Naming the pig mascot after the high-profile drug seemed a natural for the Saints, a Triple-A affiliate of the Twins that has a long history of amusing promotions, such as attaching a fan to a Velcro wall in the outfield and holding races in the infield between people dressed as giant eyeballs.

With such past stunts in mind, some Saints fans defended the name as a play on words and nothing more.

Aronson said team officials understood why some people are outraged and considered making a name change but decided to stick with Ozempig.

“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 said.

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