Reese Hoffa, who is universally known for putting the shot long distances, solving the Rubik’s Cube in near-record time and eating turkey legs, figures to take part in at least two of those three activities tonight in downtown Lawrence.
A year ago in the Kansas Relays, the 5-foot-11, 315-pound two-time Olympian placed second to Dylan Armstrong with a heave of 69-31⁄2, completed a Cube handed to him by one of the 2,500 fans, but did not devour any turkey.
He only performs his signature “turkey trot” after victories.
“A man can only eat so many turkey legs. If a couple hundred people show up with turkey legs ... that could be one heck of a feast,” Hoffa said Tuesday at a news conference in advance of today’s 6 p.m. shot competition at Eighth and New Hampshire streets.
“Hey, if the (fans) want to do that, I will definitely indulge and try to take a bite out of a couple of them,” he added good-naturedly.
Hoffa will face a star-studded field that includes last year’s winner (Armstrong, 70-71⁄4) and third-place finisher (Adam Nelson, 68-51⁄4). Olympic silver medalist Christian Cantwell, who did not compete last year because of injury, also is expected to throw against the likes of Ryan Whiting, Cory Martin and Dan Taylor.
“I think it’s going to be perfect,” Hoffa said of the weather and the atmosphere tonight.
“It’s a lot of fun to throw in the street. Kansas has done a great job of putting together such a competitive field,” added the 34-year-old former University of Georgia standout. “The biggest difference between the Olympic Games and a meet like this is here you get to give a high-five to the spectators. (Last year) a mom gave me a baby and said, ‘Let’s take a picture.’ The Olympics is more commercial. This is more grass-roots, come-out-and-have-a-fun-time-type environment.”
Tonight’s event will feature an appearance by KU football coach Charlie Weis with prize giveaways for fans, music from D.J. Travis Read and a bounce house for youths. There is no admission charge.
“I have no prediction,” Hoffa said. “I used to do predictions. I did it in Poland and said, ‘I’m going to throw 72 feet.’ I went 68. Let’s just say I feel like I’m in pretty good shape to get it around 70-plus feet.”