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Side Hustle Series: I’m a Chick-fil-A Cow

by J. Money on Thursday, October 10, 2013

chick-fil-a cow mascots

[Guest post by Crystal Stemberger as part of our Side Hustle Series)

Yep, I’m a cow and it’s fun! About a year ago, I showed up to an open interview for becoming a Chick-fil-A cow mascot. Now I am called in once in a while to put on a the Kid Cow Costume, and then I allow myself to be assaulted by children and some adults.

How I Got Started

I honestly just wanted to get out of the house more, and hopefully make some money doing it. Self-employment can be time-consuming, unstable, stressful, fulfilling, fun, etc. But my online business is not very social. I did not want to become that anti-people stereotype that friends liked to tease me about when I first quit my day job.

So when I received one of my weekly texts from my local Chick-fil-A, I was surprised that it was asking if anybody was interested in being a cow mascot. I called in immediately. It sounded fun!  The manager let me know that I should show up for the open interview that was about a week later.

I thought I stunk during the cow practice stuff, but I received a call back about a month later asking me to fill out the paperwork so I could get started. Now I am called in once in a while to be a Chick-fil-A Kid Cow at church and school functions when the main cows have after school practices (hahaha). I love being their only mascot over the age of 22.

How Much You Can Make

I don’t know the national average, but the going rate here in Houston, TX is $10 an hour with a 2 hour minimum. Most events are 1-3 hours, so I make about $20-$30 per event. Yeah, it’s not life-changing money, but it gets me out of house.

I don’t get called in that often since I’m just a backup cow, but I’ve been to about 8 events so far.  I have earned about $225. It’s paid for a couple of really nice dinners. It also is a great conversation starter – people always perk up and ask questions when I mention being a very part-time mascot.

How To Get Started

It seems that there are bunches of ways to become a mascot. You can apply through a regular job application at a ton of restaurants. I was on the text list of the local Chick-fil-A for weekly specials, and that opened the door for the mascot text. Some of my fellow cows just knew the Chick-fil-A manager from their everyday lives. Also, there are a few frozen yogurt mascot jobs are listed on Houston Craigslist right now.  Just keep your eyes and ears open if you think it sounds fun.

chick fil a cow mascots funny

Once you have the connection and are going after a mascot position, make sure to really act out every gesture in a big way. Remember, you are in a cow suit (or whatever), so you have to make every action stand out. I lean all the way over to look sad if I scare a kid on accident, or I hide behind something and cover my fake eyes to look scared too. If someone is eating a hamburger, I act crazy, play dead, then pop up and point at all of the words on my tshirt (remember, I’m a cow and want them to eat more chicken… my shirt even says “Eat Mor Chikn”). Every movement needs to count in a big way. The rest of your job is to give hugs, pat heads, shake hands, dance like crazy, and take pictures with people.

Benefits and Drawbacks

This will be pretty easy, lol.

Benefits:

  1. It’s fun to dress up and act crazy!
  2. It’s great exercise!  The dancing around is pure cardio and I also sweat out like 5 pounds of water.
  3. Hugs from random people are nice on a bad day.
  4. Sticky kids only get the sticky on the suit. Oh, and find a job like mine that washes your suit for you between all uses.
  5. $10 an hour is $10 an hour.
  6. You meet a ton of people with whatever organization that you are a mascot for – yay networking!
  7. You can be the center of attention without actually being the center of attention I’m one of the few extroverts out of the dozen mascots that I’ve met.  The introverts love being able to act nuts and nobody knows who it really is… then they go out the back when they are done. On the other hand, I walk sweaty and proudly through the crowds to leave and get some high fives from the adults that can put 2 and 2 together.

Drawbacks:

  1. It is freaking hot!!! No one gets in a suit and gets out without being drenched in sweat. Period.
  2. It’s hard to see in the suits and glasses are tough to keep on. Getting contacts made everything way easier for me.
  3. Some teenagers and a few adults suck.  Little kids want hugs and high fives. Teenagers trying to be cool may try to put their hands over your only space to see out from. Or adults will roughly pat you on the back or accidentally push you over a little because they do not think about you being top heavy. Most of the time, you can deal with this by “accidentally” stepping on all annoyances…
  4. $10 an hour to be hot and around kids and crappy teenagers is not for everyone.
  5. You will get a ton of attention. Don’t become a mascot if you don’t want to be surrounded by people.

As hobby jobs go, this is probably the weirdest one I’ve ever done. It’s also the coolest to talk about.  Would you ever want to be a mascot?

———-
Crystal Stemberger is the owner and author over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff.  She also manages blog advertising for others and is a paid staff and ghost writer.  You can see all of her services at Crystal For Hire.

Have a cool side hustle of your own? Let us know and maybe we’ll feature it!


{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 moneystepper.com October 10, 2013 at 7:35 am

“I’m just a backup cow” – this might be the strangest thing I’ve read this week!! :)

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2 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 10:55 am

LOL, I didn’t think about it when I first wrote it, but now I love that line. :-)

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3 J. Money October 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Haha… that was one of my favorite parts too actually :)

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4 Holly@ClubThrifty October 10, 2013 at 8:27 am

O.M.G.

Props to you, my friend. I was the Hardee’s star at a fundraiser once and it was hell on wheels. Never again.

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5 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

Yeah, I can at least move somewhat normally in the cow suit – I could just imagine how annoying a star shape would be to fit in, hehehe.

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6 Michelle October 10, 2013 at 8:33 am

Haha this sounds interesting. I don’t think I could do it though because being in a costume that big doesn’t sound comfortable to me.

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7 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm

It definitely isn’t comfortable…

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8 Brian October 10, 2013 at 8:34 am

LOL. Good stuff. I don’t think I could ever be a mascot. No free Chick-fil-A food?

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9 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

Every once in a while. If I am a cow at one of the restaurants, then yes, I get a free meal at the end. But if we are offsite, then it’s just free water and they’ll offer to pick me up a snack and I usually decline and head home.

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10 Mike Collins October 10, 2013 at 8:52 am

It must be really tough staying in that suit in Texas! We recently took a family trip to Disney and most of the characters would only stay out for a short while before going inside to take a break. Some of them had it easy (like the princess breakfast in air conditioning) but I can’t imagine being in a Monsters Inc. costume when it is 100 degrees outside.

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11 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 10:59 am

Yeah, it’s killer. The hotter it is, the less time they allow us to stay out between breaks. So at outdoor events, I end up taking breaks every 30 minutes or so. At indoor events, it’s about every 45 minutes.

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12 Joel @ SaveOutsideTheBox October 10, 2013 at 9:04 am

That’s awesome! I used to dress up as a cell phone when I was in high school. I got paid $15 an hour, which was ridiculous for a high schooler! Some punk kids did shoot paintballs at me with a slingshot one time though. Still worth it though!

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13 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 11:01 am

Wow, that would suck. We’re supposed to stay calm while our “wrangler” handles the obnoxious people. I usually step on them before my wrangler even notices that I am being harassed.

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14 J. Money October 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm

That’s F’d up!

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15 John S @ Frugal Rules October 10, 2013 at 9:28 am

Back-up cow….never thought I’d be reading that today! ;) Sounds like a nice little gig if you can stand the heat, plus you can’t beat being paid to just act silly.

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16 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm

That’s what I think too! I am silly a lot of the time for free, lol, so this is way better.

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17 MrsPoP @ PlantingOurPennies October 10, 2013 at 9:48 am

I was the Easter bunny at the mall in high school. Paid super well for a HS job – I think $12 or $14 per hour in the late 90′s! =)

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18 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm

That is awesome! I’d love to be the Easter Bunny sometime!

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19 MonicaOnMoney October 10, 2013 at 10:06 am

I love this! It’s such a creative and fun way to make some extra money and get some new perspectives. It’s true that $10 an hour is $10 an hour and it does add up!! I know this is a great part time job for high school kids too.

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20 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Oh yeah! I was making $5.50 an hour in college, so this would have been way better even as just the backup cow. :-)

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21 Mark Ross October 10, 2013 at 10:47 am

Yeah. You’re still earning and I think you’re having fun doing it. Good luck on that! :)

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22 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Thanks! Good luck with you too!

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23 Ben @ The Wealth Gospel October 10, 2013 at 11:34 am

I’m an example of one of those people who would suck at your job haha. I tried out to be my high school mascot during a quarter of one of our basketball games, and I’m pretty sure I was the most awkward mascot in the history of mascot lore.

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24 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm

LOL. The reason I am the backup cow is that I am pretty awkward too. I just say it’s part of my schtick and move on, hahaha.

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25 Brian October 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm

That’s pretty cool. I have a friend who was the mascot for my college for 4years. Now he fills in for the local NBA team and the local minor league baseball team when the regular can’t make it or is sick. Apparently those gigs pay really really well.

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26 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm

That’s really cool! I don’t think I’ll ever progress to that level, but it is good money if you can get it. :-)

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27 Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen October 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I love that you’re a backup cow! Haha. It sounds like a crazy side job to do and not something I would want. Sweating in a big suit doesn’t sound like too much fun. Glad you’re enjoying it!

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28 Crystal October 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm

The sweating isn’t fun, but I do feel like I earn the brownies I eat afterwards…

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29 Taynia | The Fiscal Flamingo October 10, 2013 at 7:01 pm

You are so awesome. If I ever get to Houston and see a Chick-Fil-A cow, I’m totally going to whisper, “Crystal – is that you?” :-)

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30 Crystal October 11, 2013 at 3:24 am

LOL, remember to only ask the kid cows (short ones). ;-)

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31 Lance @ Money Life and More October 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I wouldn’t mind being a mascot as long as I was in air conditioning. I’m sure it’d still be hot, but at least it’d be bearable… not chickenable… I’m such a dork!

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32 J. Money October 10, 2013 at 10:59 pm

hhahaha….that was actually a good one ;)

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33 Crystal October 11, 2013 at 3:25 am

Hahaha! Indoors and outdoors don’t feel amazingly different in a cow suit. Direct sunlight is a deciding factor of suckiness though…

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34 Kim@Eyesonthedollar October 10, 2013 at 10:46 pm

I love it. I’m such a klutz, I’d probably fall and kill somebody. I ‘ve never been in a suit like that, but I did have to dress up like a hula girl and do a dance for the summer reading program when I worked at a library in college. I’m just glad it was only little kids seeing me.

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35 Crystal October 11, 2013 at 3:26 am

That’s even more ballsy since you didn’t have a suit to hide in. Way to go!

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36 Marissa@Thirtysixmonths October 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

It’s pretty cool and cute at the same time. This is such an entertaining post. I love it! I was really laughing out loud when I got to that part about “I’m just a back-up cow!”

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37 Crystal October 13, 2013 at 2:56 am

Hehe. I’m so glad I think weird…lines like that accidentally slip through and make people smile. :-D

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38 Tahnya Kristina October 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Love this post – congrats Crystal for sharing your story. I always thought it would be cool to play dress up for extra cash – maybe one of Santa’s helpers? Let me ask you – is it really hot in that suit?

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39 Crystal October 13, 2013 at 2:58 am

It is SOOOOO HOT. For the first 3-5 minutes, I think “Hey, it’s not as bad as I remember.” Then I move around and start sweating by the gallon. Then I think “Oh yeah, it is exactly as hot as I remember…oh well…” I generally try to keep my mind off of it with hugs and dancing.

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40 Cynthia March 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm

$10/hr? That’s grossly under paid. When I did mascot work, I got paid nothing less than $18/hr and often worked 4-8 hrs or multiple days. Even as a mascot guide, I made $14-16/hr and I work in a smaller city than Houston, TX. Average rate is $18/hr minimum, the exception being theme parks, and I guess in this case, fast food restaurants.

With this being said, you’ll almost never find decent mascot jobs on craigslist. (Most of the time you’ll be lucky to find decent work period on craigslist.)

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