I never knew the story of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit until my Disney orientation. It’s a very Interesting story.
The short version is Walt Disney was successful with Oswald in 1927 but contracts took Oswald away from Disney. On the train back from New York to LA, Walt drew a mouse that looked like the rabbit. Walt’s wife named him Mickey.
In February 2006, Walt Disney World regained the rights to Oswald. It happened in a deal Disney made with NBC/Universal. As I read how the deal worked, it went about like this:
- Al Michaels, a Monday Night Football announcer, wanted out of his ABC contract to go to NBC. The reason was because ABC lost MNF to NBC and his co-announcer, John Madden, already signed with NBC.
- NBC has exclusive rights to Olympic coverage and ESPN wanted to be able to show more Olympic highlights.
- NBC also had rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
So Disney made a trade: Al Michaels for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and some rights to show NBC-owned sports highlights on ESPN.