Last updated on September 18th, 2023 at 11:14 pm
In a world of towering legends and larger-than-life characters, there was one colossal figure who stood tall, both literally and figuratively: Andre the Giant.
Andrew was a wrestling icon and famed actor. He was a living spectacle of epic proportions. Both his immense size and his in-ring abilities left audiences awestruck.
However, among his peers and fans alike, he was also famous for something unexpected: His absurd drinking habits.
Some of you may believe your penchant for alcohol to be massive. But compared to Andre the Giant, even the heaviest drinkers don’t compare.
With a drinking capacity that seemed to defy the laws of physics, one couldn’t help but wonder if there was some sort of clever trick or ruse behind his incredible feats. Did Andre possess a secret that allowed him to down pint after pint without pause?
Or was he, in fact, just uniquely gifted, his size and experience making him a formidable force at the bar? Regardless, Andre the Giant’s incredible drinking habits are the stuff of legends.
The Makings of a Star
Measuring 7’4″ tall and weighing an astounding 500 pounds, Andre the Giant’s sheer size was almost unimaginable. This, combined with his ambition and knack for entertainment, quickly catapulted him to the heights of both professional wrestling and then Hollywood.
He was born Andre Rene Roussimoff in Grenoble, France, in 1946. He grappled with a rare condition called acromegaly, also known as gigantism. This caused an overabundance of growth hormones and propelled his height to 6’7″ by the age of 17.
Recognizing his potential, French-Canadian wrestler Edouard Carpentier brought him to North America. He worked his way up to headlining matches, earning himself the moniker “The 8th Wonder of the World.”
Vince McMahon, Sr., founder of WWF (now WWE), saw Andre’s star power and signed him in 1972. They rebranded him as “Andre the Giant.” His larger-than-life persona made him one of the most recognizable names in wrestling history, alongside fellow stars like Hulk Hogan and Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
Beyond the ring, Andre’s fame reached Hollywood. He showcased his acting talents, most notably in The Princess Bride. However, it was his astonishing drinking capacity that added another layer to his legend, with tales of his unparalleled consumption becoming the stuff of folklore.
A Budding Reputation for Drinking
Quickly upon entering the wrestling world, rumors spread of Andre the Giant’s drinking exploits being as colossal as his size.
He arrived in New York to work with the McMahon family and the WWF. At this time, he was already known for his extravagant spending and late-night partying. Despite earning a hefty paycheck, a significant portion often went towards settling bar tabs accumulated during his wild escapades in Manhattan.
Andre the Giant was generous though. He often invited fellow wrestlers to join him. However, this racked up staggering bills in the process.
To help manage his drinking adventures, Vince McMahon Sr. assigned Arnold Skaaland as Andre’s “handler.” Despite being an experienced drinker himself, even Skaaland was astonished by Andre’s capacity.
He witnessed Andre demolish a dozen quarts of beer as a mere “warm-up” before a match. This feat left Skaaland in disbelief.
Young wrestler Hulk Hogan toured Japan with Andre. He also saw firsthand the Giant’s incredible drinking prowess. Speaking of the legendary wrestler, Hogan recalled Andre downing at least an entire case of ‘tall boys’ during each bus ride, with the playful ritual of crushing empty cans against Hogan’s head.
Andre the Giant’s legendary ability to consume copious amounts of alcohol became a fascinating and unforgettable aspect of his larger-than-life persona. It added to the mystique of this wrestling icon and earned him yet another nickname in the process.
“The Greatest Drunk on Earth”
In truth, Andre the Giant’s drinking abilities were nothing short of legendary. Although not officially recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records, Andre’s personal best reportedly involved consuming a staggering 119 twelve-ounce bottles of beer in just six hours.
Considering that’s a beer every three minutes, it’s no surprise this earned him his place as “the greatest drunk on Earth.”
During a memorable appearance on David Letterman’s show, Andre also mentioned drinking 117 beers at one point. But, he admitted he couldn’t recall the rest because he passed out.
On another occasion, Andre was said to have downed a jaw-dropping 156 beers, as recounted by Mike Graham on WWE’s Legends of Wrestling. Even during a beer-drinking challenge with Dick Murdoch, Andre managed to down an astounding 116 beers over several hours.
The Fabulous Moolah also shared an amusing anecdote in her autobiography about Andre drinking 127 beers at a Pennsylvania hotel’s bar. He eventually passed out in the lobby, leaving the staff to wait for him to awaken before moving him.
Indeed, Andre’s drinking capacity was seemingly beyond the abilities of mortal men. For him, it took two liters of vodka merely to “warm up”, to put his god-like alcohol tolerance into perspective.
His unforgettable ability to consume copious amounts of alcohol remains an astonishing and legendary aspect of his larger-than-life persona.
Andre’s Health Takes a Toll
Despite his unbeatable, invincible persona, Andre the Giant’s health eventually succumbed to the toll of both his untreated acromegaly, as well as excessive drinking.
Following his final WrestleMania appearance, Andre retired from wrestling to be with his family in France. Despite his renowned strength, Andre knew that his acromegaly would inevitably shorten his life.
At the age of 46, on the morning of January 28, 1993, he tragically passed away in his sleep at a Paris hotel. The cause of death was due to congestive heart failure and likely, a heart attack. Andre had played cards with friends the previous night before returning to his hotel room.
He was found in his room the following afternoon. Andre had been in Paris to attend his father’s funeral. He decided to extend his stay to celebrate his mother’s birthday. Spending time with old friends the day before his untimely demise, he went out doing what he always loved to do.
Understanding that no cure existed for his condition, he faced each day with the knowledge that death could be lurking around any corner. Despite the challenges he faced, Andre the Giant left his mark on the world of wrestling and popular culture forever.
“Biography – The Official Licensing Website of Andre the Giant.” Andre The Giant, August 7, 2020. https://andrethegiant.com/biography/.
Brown, Box. Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. New York, NY: First Second, 2014.
English, Richard. “The Greatest Drunk on Earth: Andre the Giant.” Modern Drunkard Magazine, February 11, 2016. https://drunkard.com/10_06_andre_giant/.