In a move that shook up the business world, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced he will step down as the company’s CEO by October 2021, and has named longtime company exec Andy Jassy as his successor. The 53-year-old Jassy is known best for heading up Amazon’s enormously successful cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, and his rise through the ranks has been well documented in tech circles. But the real question on everyone’s mind is: What does the soon-to-be new top dog at Amazon like to eat?
If past interviews and profiles are any indication, it seems that Jassy is a full-on beer and wings tech bro — and hasn’t been too shy about incorporating such tastes into the company culture. According to a Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) article from 2009, Jassy hosted wing-eating contests with employees at local chain Wingdome. The report paints quite a picture.
There were lots of greasy hands and dazed expressions as about 100 Amazon.com employees gathered at the Wingdome in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood last night for an annual buffalo wing eating contest. Known as the Tatonka [sic] Bowl (after the word for buffalo from the movie “Dances with Wolves”), it pit teams with names like “Bare Bones” and “Thunder Tongues” against each other in a test to see who could consume the most chicken in one sitting. At times, it wasn’t pretty.
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But wait, there’s more. As one might expect from Amazon, the event also included “wing flow managers” that oversaw the distribution of plates to make sure the process was “scalable,” and there were other participants on hand to inspect bones for stray meat, lest the contestants try to cut corners. A bagpipe player provided the hellish soundtrack.
It’s unclear whether Jassy continued the tradition as his influence at Amazon grew over the years, but he seemed proud about his wing-eating skills at the time, nonetheless. In an another PSBJ article, Jassy talked about the tiers of “membership” in the monthly contests, and said he had achieved “platinum” status by eating 25 wings in one sitting, plus five “pasty wings” (ones that have been sitting in the tray at room temperature for a while, congealing with an overabundance of sauce).
Jassy brought the frat party lifestyle to the homefront as well, and once constructed a full-fledged sports bar in his Seattle basement dubbed “Helmet Head,” complete with seven TVs. He said he wanted to recreate the atmosphere of watching games at local Seattle pubs such as Sluggers in the Stadium District, and often spoke wistfully of his East Coast ties to teams such as the Rangers and Mets. Taking things up a notch, Jassy eventually became a part-owner of the new Seattle NHL franchise, the Kraken.
Unlike Jassy’s unabashed sporty appetites, Bezos’s tastes seem more opaque, as the CEO has not often revealed much about specific food preferences (iguana memes notwithstanding). Though Amazon has established close ties to the Downtown and South Lake Union restaurant world — landlord to the likes of Willmott’s Ghost and Mamnoon Street — the increasingly buff billionaire seems more like a “protein shake and strips of plain chicken” kind of guy these days, as he reportedly prepares his body for the rigors of space travel. A poor candidate for platinum wing membership, no doubt.