The real "Nightmare Ants" surround some prey. Getty Images

It almost never was.

The Deadspin Hall of Fame nomination, the Napoleon Dynamite dance video, the Twitter account, the legions of fans across the Internet. How did a mascot for a D-League team from Fort Wayne become so known?

When J.E. Skeets, a former Deadspin weekend editor, unleashed the image of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants mascot and dubbed it the "Nightmare Ant" (real name: the Mad Ant) with only a picture of the jacked up mascot and that short two-word title, its simplicity made it an instant blogosphere smash. Had Skeets made a full post with an explanation out of it, the masses might not have clamored as such.

"Nightmare Ant was a late-night drunken accident," he e-mails. "I was prepping the Ant post on Friday night when I inadvertently clicked 'publish' sans the Fort Wayne explanation. The photo went live on the site, the Deadspin faithful ran with it in the comments, and the rest, as they say, is imminent death."

Mad Ants president Jeff Potter caught wind of it and started writing about the phenomenon on his blog with posts entitled: "When Will The Nightmare Ant Be Stopped?"

"Honestly, I thought it was awesome," Potter says of the first time he ran across the "Nightmare Ant" post. "We're a brand new team and we're in the D-League, so to get that type of exposure … it was definitely sweet."

Though you may not know it from the looks of the mascot, the team name is actually derived from General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, an officer during the Revolutionary War and commander during the Northwest Indian War. He is the namesake of Fort Wayne and Wayne Country.

The look—which Potter says sometimes scares his daughter but most kids enjoy—was created by a local Fort Wayne resident.

"He brought over all these sketches and it really brought it home to me," Potter says. "I think we've got a very sharp looking logo and mascot. You look at a lot of minor league logos; they're kind of bubbly and cartoony. This is a little bit more harder edge and definitely a little more out there."

And the aforementioned Twitter account (which is not run by either Skeets or the Mad Ants) has embraced this harder edge persona with a recent tweet stating: "Some believe the girl in GnR's 'November Rain' video was killed by a lightning strike at the end of the wedding reception. Ha! Guess again!"

"I very much enjoy our Twitter; I don't even know what Twitter is," Potter says. "I love that our mascot has this alter ego. It's really taken on a life of its own."

And what's in store for the mascot's future?

"World domination, of course," says Skeets.

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