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The Guy Who's Played Benny The Bull For 12 Years Is Retiring

By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 18, 2016 2:30PM

Photo via Facebook

The man who has danced, high-fived and ridden a tiny motorcycle as Benny the Bull these past 12 years is retiring from his mascot post. On Friday, Barry Anderson announced on his private Facebook that he was leaving behind his "fuzzy red friend," and that June 30 would be his last day as Benny, the Tribune reports.

Benny was voted the NBA's Mascot of the Year in 2015, earning the Bulls a trophy—which is more than Bulls players did that year, no offense.

Anderson was a local favorite before the league took notice, too. Just think about the work that went into making this montage in Benny's honor, which has since racked up more than a million views on YouTube:

Fans loved Benny, in part, for being a true performer. You can see it in this surreal 2008 Jerry Springer clip, where Benny's human girlfriend confesses to cheating on him with a larger, inflatable bull (in an off-brand Bulls costume) because Benny is "so busy." Anderson's ability to emote inside an immobile, unblinking bull head is frankly staggering.

Fans also loved Benny for his puckish sense of humor. It showed in his wonderfully rude Twitter:

It also showed in a March interview with RedEye, in which he said he dreamed of doing a stunt with a "cheese sculpture of Morgan Freeman" and a squirrel.

On one occasion, Benny took his mascot duties too far. In 2006, when Anderson was 26, he allegedly punched an off-duty cop who tried to make him stop riding his mini-motorcycle—in costume, natch—at the Taste of Chicago.

The Bulls told the Tribune that the team mascot will continue to be a bull in some way or another, but it may never be Benny again. (Before Benny, if you'll recall, the Bulls mascot was Da Bull). And even if Benny lives on, he'll never quite have the peppy, borderline-manic energy that Anderson brought to the table. It's the end of an era.