Note: This is part of the UNLV News Center's landmarks series highlighting the spots that make our campus unique.
It wasn’t your typical dollar store transaction. When local artist Mike Miller sold his Hey Reb! mascot concept to UNLV in 1982 — for the grand sum of $1 — he had already found media success. The advertising firm partner was simply trying to be a good community member with the gesture.
His new mascot did two things for the school. First, Hey Reb! ended criticism over the Confederate symbols found with previous mascots, transferring its image instead to a more appropriate rebel character: a Western frontiersman. Second, the friendly character has helped rake in millions in licensing fees for the university through the years.
Hey Reb! has been featured in ESPN SportsCenter commercials and seen in numerous national television spots. In 2004, he placed second in the Capital One Mascot of the Year competition.
“Miller’s design has stood the test of time,” said Brad Rothermel, UNLV’s athletic director in the 1980s.
Now Miller’s character is memorialized in bronze. The statute was a gift to the university from alumni Chip and Helen Johnson in honor of the school’s 50-year anniversary in 2007. It sits in the Richard Tam Alumni Center courtyard.
The Hey Reb! statue was created by Art Bronze Inc. of Burbank, California. While still a relative newcomer on campus as far as landmarks go, the statue is finding a niche among the current student population. Some students have been known to rub the mascot’s mustache when they need good luck. It has also become a popular place for student and visitor photos.
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