A Leprechaun's Legacy

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WNDU) It's one of the most familiar suits in all of college football. The Notre Dame Leprechaun has represented the spirit of the Fighting Irish for decades.

Back in 1999, we introduced you to Mike Brown, Notre Dame's first African American Leprechaun. "You're known as a leprechaun the rest of your life," Brown said. "It's something that's a blessing and I don't take for granted."

Mike's path to Notre Dame was full of hurdles. "Some of its fate, destiny and some luck," Brown said.

He was offered a full ride to Marquette University, but turned it down to follow his heart to Notre Dame. But that wasn't the only twist of fate that led him to becoming a leprechaun.

"I was going to study abroad in London," Brown said. "Unfortunately, or fortunately, I got rejected to the program and I still keep that letter today because it's because of that rejection letter that I tried out for leprechaun."

Mike earned the coveted role and made history. "I didn't try out because I wanted to make some kind of statement," Brown said. "There were some people questioning how could this be? A leprechaun isn't black."

"I crack up because it's funny," Brown added. "It's a make believe character in the first place so who's to say what it should or should not look like? Or should or should not reflect?"

Earlier this year, Samuel Jackson followed in Mike's footsteps becoming the second African American Leprechaun in school history.

"I didn't grow up singing the Fight Song at six months old so to be here and have the opportunity to have any type of impact, it makes you reflect on not just the impact at Notre Dame but you can have on people's lives," Brown said.

People he still stops to pose with two decades later.

Mike continues to make an impact at Notre Dame through his work in Athletic Advancement and emceeing the pep rally's on Friday nights.

"It's part of your identity for the rest of your life whether you claim it or not," Brown said.