UNDATED (CNN) -- You win a big race, you know every camera in the place is trained on you, so what do you do? Abuse the mascot?!
His critics say that for a winner, he sure acted like a loser. Seconds after this French runner won the 3000 meter steeplechase event at the European Championships in Finland, he slapped away a gift bag and then shoved a mascot for Helsinki 2012.
Turns out that underneath that boxy blue-eyed head was a flesh and blood 14-year-old girl. Now Mahiedine Mekhissi Benabbad didn't know he was shoving a 14-year-old but still, reaction on the runner's own Facebook page was way worse.
People were saying bloody stinky swine, imbecile, what a psycho. Ben-a-bad has been hot-headed in the past, for instance, when a competitor head butted him, he came out swinging.
This wasn't the first time that the runner has had a run in with a mascot. Two years ago after winning the same race in Barcelona, he gave the mascot a big hug, asked him to get down on his knees, then pushed him over.
We've seen mascots assaulted before, most memorably when a Pittsburgh Pirate player used his bat on a passing Italian sausage, who fell and took out a wiener. There have been cases of mascot on mascot assault. And we've seen mascots help run down rowdy fans, in this case with a belly flop
those who work as characters say something strange happens, you become dehumanized, and people do things that they'd never do to another human.
It could have been worse for Appy, the Helsinki mascot. Look what happened to Elmo when he tried to spread cheer among school kids. Tickle Me Elmo became Torture Me Elmo, until he managed to dance out of danger.