While Andre the Giant was best known for wrestling, stories of his wild drinking habits are the stuff of legend.
André René Roussimoff was known as many things: Andre the Giant, the Eighth Wonder of the World, WWF Champion, to name a few. But he had another claim to fame:
“The Greatest Drunk on Earth.”
At 7 feet and 4 inches and 550 pounds, Andre the Giant’s immense size meant having a superhuman ability to consume vast amounts of alcohol that would kill almost anyone else.
Fellow wrestling legend Ric Flair recalled the time he flew with Andre and had more than a few drinks.
“I’ve been on a plane, on a 747 with him going to Tokyo out of Chicago, on No. 4 on Northwest,” Ric recounts. “We drank every bottle of vodka on the plane.”
We have a feeling Andre did most of the drinking.
Though Andre the Giant’s towering stature and size gave him his fame, the disorder that made him so big gave him intense joint pain. To ease his discomfort, Andre would often drink copious amounts of booze.
In another incident, Andre called Hulk Hogan to join him for a drink when he was stuck on a layover at an airport 15 minutes from Hogan’s house in Tampa.
“So I drive over the airport and I met him at the Delta Crown Lounge,” Hogan said. “By the time we sat down we had about 45 minutes before he had to walk to the next gate. He drank 108 12-ounce beers.”
Then there was the time fellow WWF wrestlers Mike Graham and Dusty Rhodes watched in awe as Andre drank 156 beers in one sitting. That’s 14.6 gallons of beer — about 55 times more liquid than the average human stomach can hold.
Such feats of drinking earned him the title of “The Greatest Drunk on Earth” from the humor magazine American Drunkard.
In fact, Andre’s tolerance was so strong; he could down several bottles of wine before heading to the squared circle.
“There are a lot of crazy stories about Andre that sound fake but most are true, especially his drinking,” said former wrestler Gerald Brisco. “Andre used to ask me to get him six bottles of Mateus wine and ice them down. He would drink those before we went to the ring and no one could tell.”
Cary Elwes, Andre’s The Princess Bride co-star, recounted in his book how Andre the Giant once fell on a man waiting for a cab while drunk in New York City, seriously hurting him.
After that, Elwes says, the New York Police Department would tail Andre with undercover cops while he was in the city to avoid such incidents.
While the two of them worked on the The Princess Bride, Andre would frequently take out the rest of the cast for drinks, where they’d try to keep up, which meant massive hangovers abounded on set the following day.
According to Elwes, during a line reading for film at a hotel, Andre ducked out to drink at the bar in the lobby.
After downing an enormous number of drinks, Andre attempted to walk back to his hotel room, before face-planting into the floor of the lobby and falling fast asleep.
Rather than call police or futilely attempting to move the big man, hotel employees decided it was best to place velvet ropes around the Giant.
“They decided that there was no shifting him,” recalls Elwes. “There’s no shifting a 550-pound, 7-foot-4 giant, so they had a choice: either call the authorities, and they didn’t want that kind of publicity, or wait for him to wake up, which was the wiser decision.”
The giantism allowed him to become one of the most famous wrestlers in the world also gave him intense pain throughout his life. He died at the age of 46 from heart failure, likely caused by the strain on his body from his condition.
But while he lived, he was the undisputed heavyweight champion of drinking.