Percival Stein, this week’s Son of Barnum find, courtesy of his great great grandson, Nicholas Leonard, took to the road with the “world’s fattest man”.
Stein had come across Joseph Eierling, a circus talent-spotter who had “acquired” John Webb in a circus freak show. John, a mere 19 year old who weighed over 680lbs was being “exhibited” by Eierling as the “world’s fattest man”.
Stein felt Eierling was not making the most of his client, and so devised an eating competition tour around the East Coast of the U.S. in which John Webb would participate.
Each town would advertise for competitors to stand against Webb who could eat 10 lbs beef mince, 50 grits and gravy, 30 pigs’ trotters and much more in just one session. The tour went on for weeks because nobody could beat Webb in the competition. With Stein’s publicity of the events and the gluttony of Webb, Eierling found himself with mountains of cash.
About to hit the West Coast on a further tour, disaster struck. During one competition, in a small town in Ohio, John Webb was munching his way through some squirrel meat when he had a fatal heart attack.
He was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. Unable to find a hurse large enough to transport Webb back to his home, he had to be buried on the spot in Ohio. Stein returned to New York, and Eierling went into retirement.