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Misha the Bear
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    (December 19, 1977- )
    Born in Moscow, Russian Federation
    Official mascot of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games
    Designed by children's books illustrator Victor Chizhikov
    Chosen by a public opinion poll conducted by the TV show 'V mire zhivotnykh' (Animal World) and the newspaper Sovetski Sport (Soviet Sport)
    The U.S. and 64 other countries didn't get to see him in action because they boycotted the games, due to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
    Misha is short for Mikhail (Michael), and because Mishka is the shortened version of Miedvied (similar sound for the Russian word meaning 'bear'), many Russian fairy tails have a bear similarly named in them. (clear as mud, right?)
    He closed the XXII Summer Olympics Games with a tear in his eye. (Buck up, champ.)
    Many years after the closing of the games, he still sports a Japanese web fansite.
    Over 45,000 letters were received during the poll, and a majority of them wanted a bear mascot.
    He was the first mascot of ANY sporting event to achieve merchandising icon status (as well as his own cartoon show).
    The now common practice of selling all kinds of stuff with the image of a sports mascot on it is due to his money-making popularity. (Kind of ironic for a symbol from a Communist country.)
    A special 1988 television broadcast of NBC's 'The Magical World of Disney,' celebrating the 60th birthday of Mickey Mouse, saw him make a guest appearance to wish the Mickster a happy birthday.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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