For 35 years, Ted Giannoulas has jumped and run — and flattened Barney — at ballparks across America, climbing into a feathered costume to go to work as the San Diego Chicken.
“It’s the one magic elixir that keeps me young,” he says.
Yet the bumps and bruises on Giannoulas don’t heal nearly as quickly as they used to. He is in the twilight of a long and lucrative career playing to audiences large and small, and acknowledged that this could be the San Diego Chicken’s final season. The gigs aren’t there like they used to be. Nearly every team in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB have their own licensed mascots — a trend inspired in part by the San Diego Chicken’s popularity so many years ago — and Giannoulas has cut back his schedule in recent years. Down from a high of about 250 games each year in his heyday, Giannoulas said he’ll leave his San Diego home for just 50 appearances this summer.
“At the end of this season I’ll make a determination if I think I can go another season. I can’t say for certain. I’ll just see how my body feels, what my energy level might be going forward,” Giannoulas said. “The fun and energy is still at the ballpark. I still get a charge out of it.”
He still makes a ton of money doing it too. Those 50 appearances this year are going to make Giannoulas six figures, according to the article. And it’s not like there can be a ton of overhead. I mean, it’s pretty much man + chicken suit, right?