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November 3, 2023

The Story of Mario Segale, the Man Who Super Mario Was Named After

Mario Seagle was an only child, born on April 30, 1934 to first-generation Italian immigrant farmers – Louis and Rina Segale in Seattle, Washington. He never went to college. After graduating high school, he immediately started his own construction business with just a single truck.

In 1957, at the age of 23, he married his girlfriend Donna. She later became a part of his construction company as the two built the business even bigger, together. They even started a real estate business while running the construction company.

In the year 1998, he sold his construction for $60 million. The company was purchased by an Irish corporation and Segale move on to focus solely on his real estate company. The real estate business is what made him a part of Mario bros, after all.

In 1981, the developers were working on Donkey Kong, the arcade game. The workhouse in Tukwila, where the game was developed, was rented out by Mario Segale. Initially, the character was named “Jump man” but they changed it to Mario because of their landlord.

According to the New York Times, Segale had entered the warehouse to scold the company president over failure to pay rent. The discussion side-tracked to an argument about names and the rest is history. The late rent was compensated with a named tribute.

Segale never cherished the limelight as others might have. Despite being the namesake of one of history’s most influential gaming characters, he didn’t come out publicly as much. He wanted to focus on his real estate business, Segale Properties, which he ran with his son and wife.

Segale Mario kept a very low profile, only rarely speaking to the media. In 1993, he gave one brief interview to the Seattle Times, a first-ever press statement by him. He said he was “still waiting for the royalty checks” for his name being used by Nintendo.

Segale in 2016

Segale died on October 27, 2018, at his residence in Washington. The official cause of death was never revealed in public. As he was 84, many assume it must have been some old-age related issue.


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