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Mario Segale, Nintendo’s Inspiration for ‘Mario Bros’ Character, Dies at 84

Super Mario was named after Segale when he confronted his tenant, Nintendo, about overdue rent

Mario Segale, the man who inspired Nintendo’s peppy Italian plumber Mario in the Mario Bros. video game franchise, has died. He was 84.

According to the Auburn Reporter, Segale died Saturday, Oct. 27, surrounded by his family. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Segale launched a construction company in 1952 which mined gravel, made asphalt and repaved freeways and airport runways. He went on to acquire real estate in Washington state, including a shopping center and warehouses. In 1980, Segale leased one such warehouse to Nintendo, a Japanese video game company that was expanding into the American market.

In “Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World,” author David Sheff wrote that the team was having difficulty coming up with American names for the characters in Donkey Kong, when there was a knock at the warehouse door. It was Segale demanding overdue rent. Sheff wrote that after Segale left, the team had the name of their flagship protagonist: Super Mario.

Among the other properties that Segale owned was the land under Emerald Downs Racetrack & Casino, which the Auburn Reporter said he sold to the Muckleshoot Tribe for $73.6 million.

Segale is survived by his wife of 61 years, Donna, three daughters and nine grandchildren.