Baseball team accused of fat-shaming after naming mascot Ozempig

The name, a reference to the weight loss drug Ozempic, was chosen after a name-the-pig contest.

The St Paul Saints have named their mascot Ozempig after the weight loss drug (St Paul Saints Baseball via AP)
The St Paul Saints have named their mascot Ozempig after the weight loss drug (St Paul Saints Baseball via AP) (AP)

A baseball team’s decision to name its live pig mascot after a weight loss drug backfired when the club was accused of fat-shaming on social media.

The St Paul Saints named their new mascot Ozempig after the drug Ozempic, which has proved revolutionary in helping people shed the pounds.

But the minor league team’s backstory for the animal: that it had been embarrassed to gain weight and had promised to stay slim, was accused of being 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 a name-the-pig contest.

Team officials were shocked that so many people found the name offensive, Mr 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,” Mr 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 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 team which 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.

Mr 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.