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How Florida Chose an Alligator Mascot More Than 100 Years Ago
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The University of Florida loves tradition. It’s a big reason why Gator Nation is so special. Everywhere you go, whether it’s on campus or in the Gainesville community, there’s always something that makes you want to scream ‘Go Gators!” at the top of your lungs. Nothing embodies that spirit quite like Albert E. Gator and Alberta Gator.

When the Florida Gators are dominating a NCAA football game at The Swamp, these two scaly reptilian mascots are on the sidelines. When there is a pep rally, they are front and center. Even when there is a wedding nearby, there’s a solid chance the Gator mascots will be there, too. They are everybody’s favorite reptiles and have been side-by-side for over 35 years.

The history of their friendship is pretty special, too. But did you know more than 100 years ago, the alligator was chosen to represent the University of Florida?

History of the Florida Gators Mascots

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Long before Florida’s gator head became synonymous with college football greatness, the alligator was chosen with the help of Austin Miller in 1908. He was from Gainesville but was a law school student at the University of Virginia.

When his father, Phillip Miller, went to visit him at school, he wanted to buy some pennants and banners to sell at his store back home. The Yale bulldog and Princeton tiger were among the items available, as the story goes, but nothing resembling the University of Florida.

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Austin Miller suggested an alligator since it was native to the state of Florida and no other school had an alligator mascot as its symbol yet. The rest is history.

Albert Arrived in 1970 

Albert — the school’s first live alligator mascot — arrived in 1957. Then in 1970, Albert came to life in a full-body vinyl costume. Alberta the Alligator followed years later in 1986.

Despite rumors and myths, Albert and Alberta are not technically a couple, according to the school. They are sidekicks and friends. Most importantly, they are legends.

Today, the University of Florida Gators college mascots can be found everywhere. They are most prominent at football games against SEC football teams like Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Mississippi State, but they carry the school spirit across the nation.

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No matter where the Gators play, you can expect Albert and Alberta to be right there.

This post was originally published on May 20, 2020.

MORE: Why Gator Fans Will Never Rush the Field After a Win

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