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Major-League Meatballs

As you know, the little slice of heaven that is this column normally focuses on one topic, dissecting all the nuances of some complex subject to gain a better understanding of that universal question, "Why?"

Major-League Meatballs

As you know, the little slice of heaven that is this column normally focuses on one topic, dissecting all the nuances of some complex subject to gain a better understanding of that universal question, “Why?”

Just kidding.

Usually, I find something goofy in the casino news and make stupid wisecracks about it. Every now and then, though, I find several goofy things on which to crack wise. This is such a month. My faithful assistant, Bud, has perused the nation’s newspapers for me and has found some weird, wacky stuff. (Bud is also my imaginary friend.)

Let’s see. First, we have meatballs at the Rio in Las Vegas. No, I’m not describing a meal. I’m talking about the “Martorano’s Masters Meatball Eating Championship.” This is where several freaks of nature-they are thin people who can grease down any manner of fatty food and still be thin people-gather in front of an enormous pile of cooked meat and stuff it into their faces in a horrific display of Romanesque gluttony.

It’s a “Major League Eating-sanctioned competition.” I’m not making that up.

Renowned “professional eater” Joey Chestnut took the gold, winning $1,500 for scarfing down 50 meatballs, or 6.25 pounds of cooked cow. It was a world record.

His mother must be so proud.

Coming in second was Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti. Another skinny dude, the Deep Dish came in second by a single meatball. What, he couldn’t have fit one more in there? There could have been a sudden-death eat-off. (And I mean that literally.) Bringing up the rear in third place was Sonya Thomas, a teeny little 105-pound woman who is well-known in professional eating circles. She only managed to consume a mere 42 meatballs-a near-anorexic performance.

(Meatballs aren’t Sonya’s best event. I hear a hot dog makes her lose control.)

These eating contests are becoming popular casino events. (Personally, I like watching the chicken-wing contests. With all the sauce, they are particularly grisly displays.) However, they weren’t the only battles that occurred last month in casinos.

There was that cat-fight at the Morongo.

Sorry-nowadays, “cat-fight” is probably considered an insensitive, sexist kind of term. Let’s call it a “girl fight.” This was an old-fashioned but quite spirited girl fight in the food court of the California casino. Tables, chairs, hot dogs and Italian subs were all flying around a huge gal-scrum. What made it really interesting, though, was how it was broken up.

The fight was broken up by Tim Floyd, the former USC and Chicago Bulls basketball coach. Just as he would have broken up a fracas at mid-court, Floyd stepped into the fray and separated the combatants. One woman was not pleased, and picked up a chair behind Floyd’s back. If she hadn’t been stopped by another rather large man, she would have brained Floyd with it.

It was quite a scene. And the best part? Someone had a camera. It’s all over YouTube.

There were sanctioned fights at casinos last month as well. The one dubbed “goofy” by Bud, my imaginary assistant, was a charity event at California’s Commerce Casino. Someone beat the crap out of reality-TV star Kim Kardashian in an event where she, her brother Robert and stepfather Bruce Jenner all got punched in the face by fans for charity.

Personally, I would like to see every person involved in any way with reality television-starting with the creators and producers-line up to get punched in the face. But I digress.

Speaking of competitions, the 2009 “Person Of The Year” awards at Mandalay Bay last month attracted one of the most famous and infamous baseball players of all time, Sammy Sosa. The former Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers slugger, though, raised eyebrows at the event for something other than his steroid-pumped, gargantuan forearms:

He showed up white.

I’m serious. Anyone who watched Sosa play knows the man, a native of the Dominican Republic, to be of African heritage with a very dark complexion. When he showed up at Mandalay Bay last month, he looked like a lighter version of Louis Prima.

Asked whether he is bleaching his skin, Sosa replied that his sudden albino look was an “accidental” result of a skin rejuvenation treatment he is undergoing.

You know, just like he accidentally took steroids for several years that one time.

Well, kids, there was more funny stuff at the casinos last month, but I just looked at the bottom of the page, and we’re out of space. (That’s right. I’m here, inside the magazine.)

Right now, I’m off to eat some meatballs. I’m going for the record.


Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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