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Capital One National Mascot of the Year Race Reviving Electoral Process One Summersault at a Time

November 3, 2003 at 9:33 AM EST
                   Electronic Polling Closes Dec. 22, 2003

MCLEAN, Va., Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- In an age of apathetic voters and bland candidates, 12 contenders for one particularly lofty national post are rejuvenating the national electorate with their school spirit and quest to be the best. While pundits babble on about political strategy and candidates make promises, these furry dozen are already at the center of one of America's greatest electoral races -- the quest to be named Capital One Mascot of the Year.

The 12 mascots vying for this year's title are members of the second annual Capital One All-America Mascot Team, representing colleges and universities from coast to coast. They're brash. They're feisty. One's even a bit Cocky, and another's a real "nut." But there are no "Donkey" and "Elephant" party lines in this race; nor is there a terminator, hustler, or "Diff'rent Strokes" child star. "What we talkin' 'bout?"

    The 2003 Capital One National Mascot of the Year Contenders

     Albert -- University of Florida
     Aubie -- Auburn University
     Big Red -- Western Kentucky Univ.
     Brutus Buckeye -- Ohio State Univ.
     Chip -- University of Colorado
     Cocky -- University of South Carolina
     Hairy Dawg -- University of Georgia
     Harry the Husky -- University of Washington
     Monte -- University of Montana
     Scratch -- University of Kentucky
     Smokey -- University of Tennessee
     YoUDee -- University of Delaware

"In today's climate, voter turnout can be the key to victory," said Pam Girardo, mascot spokesperson at Capital One. "The enthusiasm for this year's National Mascot of the Year contest demonstrates that nothing motivates and energizes people more than a fuzzy, hip-shaking, roof-raising beast of a cheerleader."

The competition among the mascots has been heating up since public voting for the Capital One National Mascot of the Year began Sept. 4 online at www.capitalonebowl.com. Unlike traditional politicians, these characters have been campaigning on just one platform -- generating school spirit.

They have forgone the traditional hot-air speeches (actually they can't talk) and bus tours, and replaced them with daring acrobatics, push ups and belly slides to woo voters. They have armed themselves with a war chest of school spirit, and been going classroom-to-classroom and grill-to-grill at tailgating parties, shaking paws, claws and feathers. They even have been waving their "Vote for Me" campaign banners during rush-hour traffic and at local parades, as well as erecting billboards and blasting e-mails to their fan base to drum up support.

That's not to say that the campaign hasn't had its tense moments. Feathers flew when one candidate promised voters a "chicken in every pot," prompting vigorous protests from the birds in the race. And the most recent candidate debate dissolved into chaos when the moderator, that crazy wildlife guy from the cable channel, leapt from his seat and tried to wrestle a candidate into a canvas bag.

Despite the controversy, the campaign continues. As of Oct. 31, nearly two million votes have been cast. Brutus Buckeye and Cocky are beak to nut at the top of the rankings. Online polling (www.capitalonebowl.com) will remain open until Dec. 22, 2003. The Capital One National Mascot of the Year will be selected based on a panel of judges' ranking (50 percent) and the online voting results (50 percent). The winner will be announced during the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2004. There is no legislation that allows for a recall vote.

About the Capital One All-America Team Competition

The second annual Capital One All-America Mascot Team and National Mascot of the Year contests began in March 2003, when nomination kits were mailed to Division IA & IAA schools with college football programs. In June, a panel of judges, including representatives from ESPN, Capital One and the mascot community, selected the 12 finalists. Judging criteria included interaction with fans, sportsmanship and community service. The team was officially announced on July 31, 2003. Each mascot received $5,000 for its school's mascot program. The Capital One National Mascot of the Year will receive an additional $5,000 (for a total of $10,000).

About Capital One

Headquartered in McLean, Va., Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries include: Capital One Bank and Capital One FSB, which offer consumer lending products, and Capital One Auto Finance, Inc., which offers auto loan products. Capital One's subsidiaries collectively had 46.4 million managed accounts and $67.3 billion in managed loans outstanding as of September, 2003. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world. Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 500 index. Capital One's affiliation with college football began with the sponsorship of the 2001 Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl (now the Capital One Bowl) and ESPN's Bowl Week.

SOURCE  Capital One Financial Corporation
    -0-                             11/03/2003
    /NOTE TO EDITORS:  Editor-Producer Note: B-roll footage of mascots
campaigning and still photography available.  Please contact Charlie Domalik
at +1-804-675-8133 or via e-mail at cdomalik@crtpr.com/
    /CONTACT:  Charlie Domalik, +1-804-675-8133, cdomalik@crtpr.com, for
Capital One Financial Corporation; or Pam Girardo of Capital One Financial
Corporation, +1-703-720-2351, pam.girardo@capitalone.com/
    /Web site:  http://www.capitalone.com
                http://www.capitalonebowl.com/
    (COF)

CO:  Capital One Financial Corporation
ST:  Virginia
IN:  FIN SPT EDU
SU:  BFA

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4620 11/03/2003 09:32 EST http://www.prnewswire.com