Competitor in Fresno Grizzlies taco qualifier passes away

update #5MLE have made their first social media update since Tuesday’s tragedy with an Instagram post about Badlands Booker’s new video. The Sacramento Bee has an article The family has set up a fundraising page on facebook

update #4 has an interview with the family of the deceased. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office announced that choking was the cause of death.

Another tweet promoting Tuesday’s contest as a MLE qualifier has been deleted (Original URL) Here is a screen capture:

update #3Saturday’s contest has been removed from the MLE schedule.

update #2 Saturday’s MLE contest has been cancelled (Fresno Bee article)

The Fresno Grizzlies have deleted the June 26 tweet promoting last night’s contest as a MLE qualifier. Here is a screenshot:

update The Fresno Grizzlies have posted an official statement which denies that last night’s contest was MLE sanctioned or a qualifier for a MLE event. The contest was promoted as awarding a spot in Saturday’s MLE contest. The Fresno Grizzlies held qualifiers in 2017 and 2018. Both competitions were won by Zach Armas, who took 6th and 5th place in the MLE events.

The Fresno Bee reports that a competitor in last night’s taco eating contest at the Fresno Grizzlies ballpark passed away. The competition was to have awarded a spot in Saturday’s MLE contest. I believe this is the first fatality connected with a sanctioned event in American competitive eating history. Details about the incident:

Fans at the game said a man collapsed to the ground in the middle of the taco eating contest. Emergency medical technicians then attempted the Heimlich maneuver and CPR before paramedics arrived in an ambulance and tried to resuscitate him, fans added.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the man collapsed.

Comments (62)


  1. Anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 1:58 pm

    Doesn’t give one much confidence that MLE events are safe either. Many times an EMT really isn’t enough.

  2. anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 3:01 pm

    True comment I remember some years ago George Shea told Ed Jarvis all it takes is one contest related fatality and hes closing shop. Whether that applies now remains to be seen

  3. Winged Saucer said

    August 14, 2019 @ 5:01 pm

    This was not an MLE run event.

  4. Anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 5:10 pm

    Was this a sanctioned contest in preparation for Saturday’s MLE contest. Must have been if they are awarding or were to award a spot in that contest. This is really bad.

  5. anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 5:56 pm

    I’ll give it that it was not an actual MLE contest but it’s hitting home and next time it could be home

  6. Anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 5:57 pm

    MLE = Major Liability Eating

  7. anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 6:01 pm

    Waiver sheet is a cheap way of saying MLE is not liable. If an eater dies at a contest you can bet the ranch the family of the deceased will find someone accountable along with a messy lawsuit .

  8. Anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 8:33 pm

    MLE will most definitely be named in the lawsuit. Their name was all over the contest and they were most definitely involved. Will be interesting to watch how it all plays out.

  9. Anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 8:44 pm

    Well, if MLE reserves a spot for the Throwdown to fill according to its wishes, and if that spot is awarded to the winner of the Throwdown’s amateur contest, then that amateur contest is a de facto qualifier even if that amateur contest is not a sanctioned event.

  10. Anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 9:16 pm

    Contest is still on MLE site?

  11. ojrifkin said (Registered July 27, 2005)

    August 14, 2019 @ 9:20 pm

    It has been removed from the MLE calendar

    I have not been able to find any statement about Tuesday night’s incident on the MLE website or social media.

  12. anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 10:34 pm

    Oh my god . This is all George Shea needs right now/ He must be shittin in his pants right now

  13. anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 10:36 pm

    Looks like some of the big names in MLE will soon have to join Dan Kenndedy league for $300 purses

  14. anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 10:37 pm

    Kobe must be loving this

  15. Anonymous said

    August 14, 2019 @ 11:06 pm

    Wonder how motivated the new e3 is now to keep doing new contests. This should make them think twice! This could put MLE out of business. Imagine what itd do to a couple of regular guys.

  16. ojrifkin said (Registered July 27, 2005)

    August 14, 2019 @ 11:12 pm

    Naader Reda had a choking incident at Kobyashi’s Gringo Bandito taco eating contest in April

  17. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 12:39 am

    What about the two morbidly obese spokes person’s that represented the heart attack grill who both died at the restaurant of ironically enough heart attacks while eating and nobody made a big deal about that in fact the restaurant used that to catapult their status as the most unhealthy restaurant in the world. The dude that died probably was going to kick the bucket no matter what he was doing after all we all have to go sometime. No biggie people die all the time. This definitely isn’t bad for anything to do with competitive eating.

  18. anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 4:06 am

    removing the contest from the MLE website wont make the problem go away

  19. anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 7:08 am

    I will assume and many will agree if ESPN decided to drop the Nathans contest which i doubt will happen and MLE was left with their yearly circuit of events the Shea brothers would not make much and signifigant salary cuts including Chestnuts yearly income with MLE would come to a screeching halt

  20. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 7:50 am

    In a PR move no doubt from pressure from MLE, the Grizzlies said there was no connection. What? I do wonder what the future holds.

  21. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 8:43 am

    I do not think Kobayashi will be happy just as he was not happy when a middle-schooler choked while imitating eaters with buns in Japan. At that time, after the incident, all competitive eating programs were cancelled in Japan. I do not think the cancellation lasted, but it certainly happened. Of course Kobayashi has no love for MLE, but I just do not think he is the kind of person who would like the passing of an eater.

  22. anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 10:33 am

    idiot i never implied Kobe would be happy about someone dying

  23. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 11:00 am

    Kobe must be loving this……..So what is he loving.? You cannot separate the death from the ramifications to MLE. You could have left out the idiot, but it seems not to be your style.

  24. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 3:23 pm

    Naader needs to just hang it up and focus on his wife and career..and lose the beard

  25. Guardian Angel said

    August 15, 2019 @ 4:38 pm

    Wasn’t an MLE thing, butttt if any competitive eaters really think an EMT will save them when it matters you’re insane. If you’re any good, and you have pounds of food in your stomach distended to the point of bursting, do you really think the EMT will be able to compress your stomach / diaphragm to dislodge whatever may be there?

    Look. I get it. Some money, some love, some recognition, and a stroke of luck is all that you ask for. But I’ve faced death twice, and got lucky. Moral of the story is, think long and hard about this. That’s all. Chances are you know who wrote this so feel free to reach out. I recommend no one did this, and if you do, only do it when you have to. I know no one asked for this write up, but I really don’t want any of my friends becoming statistics.

  26. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 4:52 pm

    He choked according to a news report I just watched on Yahoo. In case that was a question.

  27. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 7:25 pm

    “Members of the Grizzlies medical staff immediately began to give him first aid,” Botti adds.
    Hutchings was then transported to the Community Regional Medical Center. Botti says he arrived just before 8 p.m., when medical staff “began pulling out food to clear his airway.”
    Their attempts, however, were unfortunately unsuccessful and Hutchings was pronounced dead by 8:24 p.m.
    From People magazine.

  28. anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 7:45 pm

    Why don’t you just post your name instead of making us play guessing games . I am thinking you are Tim Janus

  29. anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 7:47 pm

    Guardian angel might be Ron Koch but his grammar is not that intelligent

  30. anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 7:53 pm

    Why did the Shea brothers start an eating organization to begin with ? They knew sooner or later the luck would run out and sadly it did. My personal opinion was they got bored selling commercial real estate or their was no money in it. They find some poor fat slobs or rail thin bulemics with holes in their lives willing to get up on stage in return for false hope thinking that they will become famous or be noticed . Sad very sad

  31. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 8:21 pm

    Maybe the Sheas and Barclay will regret how crummy they treated actual talent they ran off.

  32. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 8:51 pm

    Moral of the story be a better eater and you won’t have any problems.

  33. Anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 9:07 pm

    What I am wondering is if anyone thought hmmm, maybe he is choking, maybe we should give him the heimlich. I just don’t understand.

  34. anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 9:29 pm

    821 amen

  35. anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 9:46 pm

    should have listened to Dale Boone when you had the chance to join a quality eating organization like the WLOCE

  36. anonymous said

    August 15, 2019 @ 10:30 pm

    the party is over acccchhhhhhhh

  37. Anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 12:07 am

    Guardian Angel, we don’t know who you are. Just tell us so that maybe we can reach out.

  38. Anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 10:23 am

    This youtube video is completely boring. Why they put it up is beyond me, especially at this time. But then they have never acknowledged the deaths of several eaters, not from contests but for other reasons. Not a quality organization.

  39. anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 11:08 am

    all of booker videos are boring and the same boring content but it seems that youtube decided to promote his videos which is why he gets all those views. As far as videos with MLE ? Well they completely suck . Just look at the views on the site it tells the story right there

  40. anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 11:11 am

    I can think of 4 competitive eaters that died not from a result of competing but MLE never once acknowledged their demise

  41. anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 11:42 am

    Are they actually going to go ahead with the Buffalo and dumpling contest after a devastating event of this magnitude occurred ? If so it something i cannot even put into words

  42. Anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 1:31 pm

    Anyone should know that any eating contest poses certain risks. If they are willing to go ahead and compete there is no one else to blame if all precautions have been taken by the organizers.

  43. Anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 2:09 pm

    They have a lot of contests before and after that including a taco contest. I am certain that they will hold all contests. To do otherwise would confirm their complicity in the death of an eater. Eaters, beware when you sign that contract. In this case, however, it was the Grizzles medical staff that administered treatment before sending him to the hospital. That may have been an EMT but I think they had more help than just one person.

  44. anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 2:32 pm

    EMT is only beneficial if you pass out or get you oxygen and they are trained in CPR . EMT is not trained in heimlich maneuver or elae his life could have been saved . It has to be applied almost immediately upon choking or else the trapped food has done its fatal damage

  45. anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 2:38 pm

    I n MLE defense , Booker video might have been posted a few hrs before word got out that the guy died. If not then i would consider it a spit on the mans grave

  46. ojrifkin said (Registered July 27, 2005)

    August 16, 2019 @ 5:34 pm

    I tweeted that the contest was removed from the MLE calendar on Wednesday, so they must have been aware of the incident when they posted about the Booker video yesterday

  47. anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 6:30 pm

    Really ? That is totally fucked up. What a world we live in sad

  48. anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 6:33 pm

    If what OJ says is true and more than likely is , MLE will forge ahead with contest in Buffalo George Shea will be on stage rapping or attempting to rap with Booker like nothing ever happened . Put your hands in the air put your hands in the air

  49. anonymous said

    August 16, 2019 @ 9:26 pm

    I noticed an unnamed male eater just posted a video on YT like nothing ever happened. The man isn’t even cold in his grave yet and that the respect you show? Disgrace

  50. Oh well said

    August 16, 2019 @ 11:00 pm

    What’s the big deal people die from boxing matches, nascar races all the time and you don’t see them canceling events indefinitely. After all everyone signs a wavier acknowledging the risks. Dumb how the lames on this thread that have no eating abilities of their own try to make this unfortunate thing worse then it is.

  51. Anonymous said

    August 17, 2019 @ 2:07 am

    You do contests at your own risk. It’s a sad event when someone dies. It’s also a sad event when drug users die from overdoses and when anyone dies doing stupid things for that matter. People make their own choices and are fully responsible for their decisions; no one else. So please stop blaming organizers who put on the contests. Nobody is forcing anybody to sign up. If you want to take the risk It’s on you and you alone.

  52. Anonymous said

    August 17, 2019 @ 7:11 am

    MLE will be sued but they’ll be ok. If it was one of Kennedy’s and Schuyler’s new contests theyd lose every cent they have in a lawsuit.

  53. anonymous said

    August 17, 2019 @ 7:37 am

    News 5 Cleveland cites MLE in the choking incident

  54. anonymous said

    August 17, 2019 @ 8:44 am

    I doubt anything will happen. If there is a lawsuit it will be swept under the table and the Sheas will use the waiver sheet as alibi . If someone chokes and dies at the Nathans finals thats a different story. ESPN will drop Nathans just like that and the Sheas will have to revert to holding the contest in the back of a tent behind Nathans restaurant with no media coverage and a hand full of reporters like they did in the 90’s

  55. Kevin Ross said

    August 17, 2019 @ 12:30 pm

    Terrible tragedy. I looked up how many people choke in general per year and it’s something like 5,000. So there is a certain amount of people that choke, though I’d imagine the chances are greater during an eating contest. I think the real problem is that people get overexcited, more worried about how they’re doing in the contest than the big picture and their safety. It took me a little experience to realize it’s wise to start a contest slowly, feel the food out, and build up in speed. Even experienced people can choke, but the odds of an amateur choking are much higher. So I really don’t always get why contest promoters do things like discourage what they deem “pros” and also some even limit or say no water allowed. That is the stupidest and most reckless thing ever. I’ve shown up to several contests where they limit liquids allowed and have told the owners how dangerous it is and they usually respond by getting angry and telling me not to tell them how to do their contest. I have no idea why they want to increase risk of somebody choking and have that on their conscience, but I think maybe people don’t always realize how dangerous this kind of thing can be. The moral isn’t to ban eating contests, it’s just for people to realize to eat at a speed that they are comfortable with and go slow and steady especially if they are inexperienced or the food is slow or dry. And don’t skimp on those liquids!

  56. Anonymous said

    August 18, 2019 @ 11:42 pm

    @8:21 Barclay treats the eaters wonderfully. What are you talking about?

  57. Anonymous said

    August 19, 2019 @ 3:53 am

    Well said Kevin!!

  58. anonymous said

    August 19, 2019 @ 7:50 am

    Now everything is forgotten while a man is being buried. George Shea will go about his usual business in Buffalo killing time on stage with his boring jokes and stale humor trying to kill time before the contest . Then Booker will get up on stage and sing the sweet science like he does every year. Shea will attempt to rap with him which in my opinion is as awful as it gets

  59. anonymous said

    August 19, 2019 @ 7:52 am

    207 am is obviously a member of MLE or one of the head honchos of the organization

  60. Anonymous said

    August 19, 2019 @ 8:35 am

    @7:11 Schuyler isn’t part of the new league.

  61. Anonymous said

    August 19, 2019 @ 10:36 am

    752am, wrong!

  62. Anonymous said

    August 19, 2019 @ 11:29 am

    I strongly doubt that any of the staff or honchos of MLE comment here. I honestly do not think that they care what is written.

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