Blue Jackets fan unmasked: Who is 'Mask Juice'?
JUL 17, 2014 12:00p ET
If you've been to a Blue Jackets game, you may have seen a man in a wrestling mask that goes by the name of "Mask Juice." Don't worry about him trying to wrestle you, though, unless you aren't passionate about Columbus and the Blue Jackets.
"For me, 'Mask Juice' is really about promoting Columbus sports and charities and getting people to come out," said Bruce Lewis -- the man behind the "Mask Juice" identity. "Getting people to come out is the only thing I care about."
Lewis was born in Columbus and spent time living in Michigan and Cleveland before returning to the capital city as an adult. A love of sports, including hockey, came courtesy of his relationship with his parents.
"My father enjoyed football and boxing and I would watch that with him," Lewis said. "But my mother loved hockey. Whenever it was on I would watch with her. She taught me the sport."
With a love of hockey firmly in place, Lewis made the Blue Jackets his favorite team when the franchise came to Columbus.
"I had 15-20 different teams' jerseys until Columbus announced their team," Lewis said.
"I got rid of all my other jerseys and became a Blue Jackets fan and I've been one ever since."
But why wear a wrestling mask?
Lewis said the identity came about somewhat by accident. Lewis had always enjoyed wrestling and had ordered a mask online to wear for fun at parties. It wasn't until he was waiting to meet a local celebrity at an event that he thought to start bringing the mask to games.
"(The celebrity) looked bored. I thought the next time I do something like this I'll bring that mask and hopefully make him smile," Lewis said. "The next celebrity I met, I wore the mask. He looked up and did a double take - it caused some engagement."
From there, an alter ego was born. Lewis started to build a collection of masks in colors that match Columbus teams. He currently owns 150 masks and commissions unique ones from designers in Mexico and Florida.
A nickname came quickly after.
"I had a nickname 'Bruce Juice' - after (the movie) 'Beetlejuice," Lewis said. "When I started wearing the mask, people asked if I had a wrestling name. I tried 'Bruce Juice' but no one remembered that. 'Mask Juice' they remembered."
For Lewis, "Mask Juice" was a way to funnel attention to the teams he loves. He is known not only for his masks, all of which he purchases himself, but also for bringing others to games.
"I'm just happy that people come out to support the team," Lewis said. "You don't have to go as crazy as I do, but if you're at a game that's good enough for me. Hopefully you'll have fun and tell two friends about it."
Another important avenue for Lewis to use the "Mask Juice" persona is in supporting the local community. When he isn't at the game of a Columbus team, you will often find him performing community service.
"It's a good thing to give back to the community," Lewis said. "I really don't have the funds to make huge donations, so what I can do to bring awareness to a situation.
"People may not know others who are promoting events or fundraising, but if I'm posting and sharing and you know 'Mask Juice' hopefully you'll come with me. Maybe you want to donate, help participate or even better, help spread the word."
The mask trend is catching on in the Jackets fan community. Lewis has helped people connect with mask vendors and has given away masks to start collections. Lewis believes it's about helping fans express their passion for the team.
"Anybody can support their team however they want to do it," Lewis said. "The mask is not something I came up with exclusively, if anyone wants to wear one I'll help you."
Lewis' persona definitely draws attention. "Mask Juice" was recently featured in some Blue Jackets' marketing materials for the upcoming season. Lewis says he is proud of how he was represented.
"I was excited because it showed only the back of my head," Lewis said. "I loved that because it symbolizes all fans that put in hard work and time coming out to Nationwide Arena year after year and supporting the team."
You can expect to see Lewis back at Nationwide Arena next season -- from his perspective, the future looks bright.
"As the season grows nearer I grow more and more excited," Lewis said. "It reminds me of time with my mother and it's hockey. I expect great things from this team - they are definitely heading in the right direction."
Full and partial season tickets for the Blue Jackets' 2014-15 season are currently available for purchase. For more information you can call (800) NHL-COLS or visit BlueJackets.com.
Follow Alison on Twitter at @AlisonL