Interview with LSU Mike The Tiger Caden Chitwood

The Paper Wolf was pleased to interview Caden Chitwood, delving into his mascot experiences as LSU’s “Mike The Tiger.” Chitwood was a 2021 Saint Paul’s School graduate and former Wolf mascot who later became one of LSU’s Mike The Tiger mascots.

Question: What drove you to become the Saint Paul’s Wolf mascot?

Answer: Honestly, I was just kind of bored, and I thought to myself that I had not gotten involved as much as everyone said I should, so when I found out nobody had taken the mantle as the mascot at Saint Paul’s, I jumped at the opportunity.

Question: What was your favorite experience being the Saint Paul’s Wolf?

Answer: My favorite experience as the Wolf would have to be every home game. Just something about running around with [fewer] rules and nobody knowing who you are was so fun. Except for students in my grade who knew I was the mascot, most people like parents and younger [students] did not.

Question: How did your time at Saint Paul’s influence your future career?

Answer: Saint Paul’s was awesome. I did not want to go there at first, to be honest. But once I got there, I soon realized I could be who I wanted to be, and nobody cared. The teachers were super cool and loved to help as long as you put in the effort and asked. The friends I made at Saint Paul’s helped me become who I am today.

Question: What made you choose LSU?

Answer: So to answer this question, I need to add a bit of backstory. After graduating from Saint Paul’s, I moved to Chicago to pursue a comedy career. I found some success, but then someone reached out to me about trying out to become Mike The Tiger. I booked a plane ticket and headed there for tryouts. I was only going to attend LSU if I got the gig, so I’m glad it all worked out.

Question: What made you want to audition to become Mike The Tiger?

Answer: In my career field of comedy and acting, people are always looking for a way to stand out from the rest. When applying for a position that 100 other people are also trying to get, you need to stand out. The word “mascot” on that resume is a huge curve ball. People are not expecting that, especially one as famous as Mike The Tiger. It also shows you can be fun and energetic, and they usually ask for videos.

Question: What was the process of trying out and becoming the LSU mascot?

Answer: Mike The Tiger is not a costume; he is a character. In order to be Mike, you can’t just walk around in a costume and take pictures. There is a walk, an energy, and a way of reacting to situations. Tryouts consisted of showing how you treat situations that might pop up at games such as crying kids, the football team scoring, or bustin’ a move to Taylor Swift.

Question: How many people did you compete against in order to be Mike The Tiger?

Answer: There were about 25 people trying out, and surprisingly, a lot of girls.

Question: Was there any preparation you underwent to get ready to audition?

Answer: I drank a lot of water. My uncle Heath Villere, another Saint Paul’s alumnus, knew one of the old Mikes from when he was in college there, so I got in touch with him. He helped me perfect the walk down and helped me learn some dances and mannerisms.

Question: What does representing LSU by wearing the costume mean to you?

Answer: This might sound cringe, but it’s not really what the costume means to me. It’s more of what it means to other people. When I put that suit on, I am no longer myself. Nobody sees Caden Chitwood. They see Mike. And, with every ounce of effort I put into this gig, nothing comes back to me in terms of credit. It’s selfless; it’s not for me. If I bust my butt running a flag across the field during pregame, Caden did not do that; Mike did. It’s nice.

Question: Do you practice for games?

Answer: Oh yeah, big time. We spend most of our time practicing dances with cheer or making props. We also spend some time practicing the pregame dance during football season. But a lot, if not all, of our time is spent making props or costumes and thinking of ways to promote the game.

Question: Have you met any celebrities? If so, who is the most notable celebrity you have met?

Answer: Oh, I have met a bunch of celebrities as Mike and even just as myself. The most notable one is [Shaquille O’Neal]. I met Shaq around two weeks ago. I was at an event taking photos with him for around two hours. After, we talked, and he told me a story in the break room. He’s a very cool guy. Another celebrity is “Deestroying.” I had no idea who this guy was before I did a video with him. But, he wanted Mike for a YouTube video for LSU, so I went to the stadium to help. We filmed for about two hours. I tackled the soul out of his body.

Question: What was your most embarrassing moment?

Answer: Probably when I was filming the video with “Deestroying.” He wanted the shot to be him throwing a pass to Mike, but I could not catch the ball for the life of me. It’s not my fault, though. Have you ever seen a tiger catch a ball with his hands while standing on two legs, and then “Griddy”? Exactly. But “Deestroying” added all three dropped passes to his video, so my embarrassing drops can be seen on his YouTube.


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