Andre The Giant has been dead for 21 years now, but his legend as one of the greatest wrestlers ever hasn’t diminished in the slightest, it’s only grown larger. Most of us probably remember him for his Hulk Hogan rivalry that came to a climax at WrestleMania III or his acting roles in Conan and The Princess Bride. Only second to his wrestling status is his reputation for drinking.
Andre was just as much a giant at the bar as he was in the ring, and can lay claim to some of the greatest drinking stories and bar tabs in history. His 7’4, 520 pound frame made him a beer-crushing machine that could drink an establishment dry. In celebration of his birthday, here are six stories you might know about the partying powerhouse.
1. He and Dusty Rhodes once stole a pair of horsed-drawn carriages. It was 1977 and Andre and Dusty Rhodes had just finished pounding beers with a group of people in several New York City bars. Unwilling to cram himself into a tiny taxi cab, Andre said he and Dusty would walk back to their hotel. It wasn’t long before they ditched the idea of walking and he and Rhodes forced their way onto a pair of horse-drawn carriages, kicking the drivers out with some cash and racing the carriages for the fifteen blocks back to their hotel. The story goes that by the time the cops arrived Andre and Rhodes were at the hotel bar sipping brandy and denying any knowledge of the mayhem.
2. He was the undocumented world champion of drinking. Andre stuck fear into the hearts of every bartender, and dollar signs into the eyes of every bar owner with his drinking prowess. It’s not documented by Guinness, but he holds the unofficial title for the most beers drank in a single sitting at a whopping 119. This is supposedly one of the few times that he actually consumed enough brew to pass out, and when he did, his friends simply draped a piano cover over him and let him sleep it off.
3. Andre would use bathtubs as toilets. And no, he wasn’t always drunk when he did so. For Andre, traveling could be difficult and this was especially true in Japan where the hotel rooms just weren’t equipped for a man of his stature. In Hulk Hogan’s book, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, he recounts a few times when Andre used the hotel bathtub for a toilet and use the newspaper for toilet paper.
4. Back to his drinking, he would sometimes get loaded before stepping into the ring. Putting back a few cases of beer or bottles of wine wasn’t that big of a deal for Andre. According to Richard English, Andre once polished off 16 bottles of plum wine before wrestling three matches, one of which was a 20-man battle royal.
5. He and Wilt Chamberlain had Arnold Schwarzenegger lifting contests. While working on Conan The Destroyer, Andre and Wilt Chamberlain would compete over who could lift the movie star with greater ease. As Arnold tells it, the competition came to a climax one night over who was going to pick up the check at dinner.
6. He was largely responsible for his Princess Bride co-stars being hungover everyday. Andre would often take Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin out drinking with him, which just resulted in the actors failing to keep up and being hungover the next day. To put in perspective the scope of Andre’s partying while filming the movie, when he checked out of the London Hyatt, his bar tab for the month-long stay was reportedly around $40,000.
Throwing back a few cases of beer is no big deal when a beer can is this tiny in your giant hand.