"It is possible to die from eating. But I think to be professional means you don't die." (Takeru Kobayashi)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bogus Booker photo revealed (again?)

Did I jump the gun when I declared the Booker/Denny's helmet photo to be a cleverly crafted hoax? Maybe. Or maybe not. (For those not familiar with the situation, see two posts below.)

So far the mystery has attracted the attention of two IFOCE pro eaters, both taking opposing sides. First, Eric "Badlands" Booker himself posted a comment on the exposé right here at Mega Munch. His take? Both photos are REAL and the helmet was just something he noticed and decided to put on to liven up the occasion. But I still wasn't sure.

Then the gastronomically gifted gals over at Trencherwomen posted my story (big thanks to them!). While there, the legendary Pat from Moonachie chimed in, claiming the resources available to him in his laboratory/trailer led him to the conclusion that the pic was indeed a victim of an overactive imagination and above average photoshop skills. In Pat's own words, "I believe my good friend Badlands Booker is but a mere Pawn in a vast Chicken-Wing conspiracy!!"

So now what? Well, because I work in an advertising agency, I too have access to photoshop and several people with the skills needed to get to the bottom of this thing. On the right is a rendering of both photos overlayed on top of one another. (Click to enlarge.) You'll notice the ghost-like appearance of the yellow helmet, but that's about it. No other ghost lines of the underlying helmet photo are visible because every pickle, wrinkle, and slice of cheese line-up perfectly with the non-helmet photo. This suggests (or proves?) that both photos are indeed the same.

But why would Badlands insist that they are two different pictures? I can think of only one possible explanation: Badlands himself -- or one of those crazy Shea brothers over at the IFOCE -- is responsible for shopping the helmet into the photo. In a sport and league known for embellishments and overactive imaginations, it makes perfect sense.

But you know what? Who really cares. Helmet or no helmet, Badlands is still one badass eater and we still love him. But just so we can put this thing to rest once and for all, I'll send a one-pound mushroom & swiss burger from Fuddruckers to the first person who can find the original photo that contained that crazy yellow helmet!


Anonymous alice said...

Are you sure that's not ReRun from What's Happening? Helmut or no-helmut?

3:44 PM

Blogger steakbellie said...

I've been doing photo-retouching for over 15 years and I agree with you and your friends. This is without doubt, the same photo.

The biggest tell is in the folds of his t-shirt which would have folded slightly differently if he put the burger down, put on the helmet and reposed.

Great idea mixing the photos down into each other. Good investigative work!

4:19 PM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

Alice - Sadly, the great Fred "Rerun" Berry passed away not too long ago, but I do remember his character always trying to score some free grub from Shirley in that restaurant they hung out in.

steakbellie - Thanks for the backup. By the way, great name! It's perfect for a career in competitive eating.

4:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the original picture hit me up at blackflub@gmail.com

10:25 PM


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