Japan Has An Annual Mascot Popularity Contest And Someone Actually Tried To Cheat At It

Can you believe?

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The Yuru-Chara Grand Prix is an annual event in Japan where the public votes for the most popular mascot - and people take it very, very seriously

The event first began in 2010 with a mere 169 entries, but by 2013 it had already garnered more than 1,500 competing "yuru-kyaras".

The voting goes on for months and ends with a main event that is held in a different city each year, where fans can meet with the yuru-kyaras and cast votes for them. A vote during the final event is worth three times the amount of an online vote.

However, the event made international headlines this year after it was found that the teams behind some yuru-kyaras had resorted to dirty tactics to take the top spot

From left: Konyudo-kun, Kaparu, and Jabow.

Image via South China Morning Post

Konyudo-kun, the white ghoul boy-looking mascot for the Mie Prefecture in Yokkaichi, took an early lead in the competition with 1.18 million online votes - which was the tip-off for event officials that something was wrong.

Turns out, according to The Japan Times, the Yokkaichi municipal government had created and distributed over 10,000 voting IDs to its 4,000 staff, resulting in multiple votes per person. Event officials eventually purged the record of 300,000 votes.

Jabow and another mascot, Inunakin from Izumsano in Osaka Prefecture, also had repeated votes culled from the records.

Kaparu, who represents the city of Shiki in Saitama Prefecture, emerged the true champion at the end of it all with nearly 890,000 votes

Kaparu, who is inspired by the Japanese water goblin or "kappa", was a last minute entry.

This was to be its last entry into the Grand Prix, after six tries. Last year, Kaparu ended up in 11th place which was its best ranking yet.

"Only five staff members and some part-timers took charge (of Kaparu's election campaign)," said Hanako Gondawara of the Shiki Culture and Sports Promotion Corporation told The Japan Times.

"Because we could not rely on organised votes, I never imagined we could win."

With this win, Kaparu joins the ranks of some of the most beloved mascots around the world, such as this one:

Kumamon is the mascot for Japan's Kumamoto Prefecture local government. It was created in 2010 and has since gained a huge following across the globe.

The mascot is so savvy that it has a presence on Twitter, Instagram, and now, YouTube

But did you know that prior to Kumamon's worldwide fame, it was the champion of an annual mascot ranking competition?

Congratulations for beating the odds, Kaparu!

You can follow Kaparu's hilarious antics on Twitter.

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