André the Giant (1946-1993) is an absolute legend in the world of wrestling. That’s right, that ‘sport’ where tanned steroids users in tight outfits pretend to hurt each other. In the glory days of André, who was 2.24 meters tall and weighed 240 kilos, it certainly wasn’t all show and people actually got seriously hurt when facing this human monster. But more impressive than his wrestling or movie career were his drinking skills. With 119 beers in just 6 hours André still holds the unofficial title of ” The Greatest Drunk on Earth”.
We can talk a lot about The Giant’s wrestling career and how he battled the famous Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania. Or we can discuss his movie career and how he starred next to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer. But we’d rather tell you about André’s legendary drinking sessions, since they were almost unrealistic.
André René Roussimoff was born in the French city of Grenoble as the son of Bulgarian and Polish parents. A combination that probably already gave him an advantage when it came to handling alcohol. Another thing was that André ‘suffered’ from excessive growth. This acromegaly can even lead to a premature death but in the wrestler’s case it just lead to a lot of pain, especially in his back. According to actor Cary Elwes, one of the reasons André drank this much was because ‘alcohol was his way to deal with the pain’.
However, this certainly wasn’t the only reason. The Giant loved to take groups of people out into town and would always pick up the bill afterwards, a typical social drunkard. Although he was mostly known for his amazing beer drinking, André drank basically everything that contained alcohol. Elwes remembered his co-star on Princess Bride usually ordering a drink called The American, which contained 40 ounces (nearly 1.2 liter) of different kinds of liquor in one pitcher. The born Frenchman would easily drink a few of them a night.
Elwes was less fund of these drinks: “I’ve never tasted airplane fuel. But I imagine it’s very close to what that must taste like. It’s very potent indeed and I remember coughing a lot. But to him, it was like chugging water.” Shooting Princess Bride took a month, in which André treated his co-stars to many hangovers and in the end picked up a bar-tab at his hotel the London Hyatt of 40.000 dollars.
But back to the amounts of beer André the Giant could consume. As said, the wrestler gained his unofficial title of “The Greatest Drunk on Earth” by drinking 119 bottles with 350 milliliters of beer in 6 hours. However, according to other wrestlers, André could drink a lot more. Mike Graham said he saw him drink 156 bottles of 470 milliliters (that’s right, do the math!) in one drinking session. Dusty Rhodes said he saw him drink 127 beers in a hotel bar before passing out in the lobby.
Hulk Hogan toured with André the Giant in Japan when he was just a young upcoming wrestler. He revealed how André would sit in the tour bus downing beers. After emptying a can, he would crush it and throw it at Hogan. And when his case of beer was done, Hogan had to get off the bus and find him a new one as fast as he could. On one of those Asian adventures a sponsor gave André a case of 16 bottles of expensive plum wine. In 4 hours on the bus The Giant drunk them all and then participated in 3 wrestling matches. After which Hogan was sent out to get him some cases of beer again.
Another night André the Giant went out drinking in Kansas City when the barkeeper called the last round way too early for the big man’s taste. The barman told André he could stay as long as he kept drinking. 40 vodka tonics later it was 5 in the morning and the wrestler finally called it a night.
But we saved the best drunk story for last. One night in New York André the Giant and Dusty Rhodes decided to walk back to the hotel from the bar. But after some time they got bored and thirsty. When the dynamic duo saw 2 horse-drawn carriages they both hijacked one of them, throwing some money at the surprised owners. After that they had a race back to the hotel that lasted 15 blocks. When the cops arrived to the scene they found the wrestlers sipping brandy in the hotel bar, while acting as if nothing happened.
Looking back we must conclude that André the Giant was some kind of a ‘superhuman’. Cause even for his enormous size and weight he drank crazy amounts of alcohol. In 1993 he died of heart failure at the age of 47. Who would have guessed that an organ other than his liver would stop functioning first, right?! Anyway, let’s cheers to the unofficial Greatest Drunk on Earth.