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The University of Montana's Monte the Grizzly Crowned Capital One National Mascot of the Year

January 2, 2003 at 7:06 AM EST

FALLS CHURCH, Va., Jan. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- He's a motorcycle-riding, moonwalking, back-flipping maniac. And now, Monte the Grizzly from the University of Montana is the Capital One National Mascot of the Year. His title was announced during the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030102/DCTH002 )

Monte's a real pro and some folks in Montana consider him to be just as tough and athletic as the guys on the football field, but this grizzly is well rounded, and can show his warm-and-fuzzy teddy side too. He flirts with the cheerleaders and gives big bear hugs to children wherever he goes.

"Monte is a wonderful choice for Capital One's first National Mascot of the Year. His campaign to victory was better than those of most politicians. He really got the community behind him," said Pam Girardo, manager, consumer public relations at Capital One. Monte's campaign went well beyond the bear necessities. In addition to erecting billboards all around Missoula, Monte secured a public endorsement from a Montana Senator. (Evidently, Montana is a bear market).

Beginning in mid-October, 12 feathered, furry and lovable creatures were named by a panel of judges -- made up of representatives from ESPN, Capital One and the mascot community -- to the inaugural Capital One All-America Mascot Team. Following the announcement of the 12 All-Americans, millions of college football fans from across the country logged on to http://www.capitalonebowl.com to vote for their favorite mascot through Dec. 20, 2002. Monte was named Capital One National Mascot of the Year based on a combination of the online popular vote (50 percent) and the panel of judges' previous ranking (50 percent), which was based on criteria that included fan interaction, demonstration of good sportsmanship and community service involvement. He will receive $10,000 for use in scholarship and funding of the school's mascot program.

The other 11 All-Americans who competed for the title of National Mascot of the Year were: Albert the Gator (University of Florida); Big Al (University of Alabama); Big Red (Western Kentucky University); Buzz the Yellow Jacket (Georgia Tech); Otto the Orange (Syracuse University); Sebastian the Ibis (University of Miami); Seymour the Eagle (University of Southern Mississippi); Smokey the Hound (University of Tennessee); The Bird (Air Force Academy); the Nittany Lion (Penn State); and Victor E. Bull (University at Buffalo). Each All-American will receive $5,000 for use in scholarship and funding of its school's mascot program.

"We had a great group of mascots for this year's Capital One All-America Mascot Team, and Monte is a wonderful representative of all of them," said Girardo. "The fans obviously love him, as he came in third place in the online 'popular' vote. And the judges wondered if he ever hibernates."

Along with getting Montana football fans fired up with his hip hop dancing, back flips and belly slides, Monte also does a lot for the community. He makes numerous public appearances annually and can "bearly" count the number of charity walk-a-thons and parades he participates in. He's the real deal.

Capital One Financial Corporation (NYSE: COF) (http://www.capitalone.com ) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One FSB, offer consumer-lending products. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Falls Church, Va., 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 is proud to continue the college football bowl tradition that began in Orlando, Fla., 57 years ago by sponsoring the Capital One Bowl, which featured Penn State from the Big Ten and Auburn University from the Southeastern Conferences. SOURCE Capital One Financial Corporation

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CONTACT: Travis Parrish, +1-804-675-8149, tparrish@crtpr.com, for Capital One Financial Corporation; or Pam Girardo of Capital One Financial Corporation, +1-703-201-1933, pam.girardo@capitalone.com