Let it be known that one should never assume that they are incapable of losing their fantasy football league. It’s an even worse idea to create a penalty meant to make others suffer because you never know if that person could be you. Journalist Lee Sanderlin learned this the hard way after spending 15 hours in “waffle hell” as punishment for coming in last place in his fantasy football league.
The rules of his punishment, which he himself suggested before he lost, were simple: He had to spend 24 hours in a Waffle House, and every waffle he ate while at that Waffle House would knock off one hour from his sentence. In the end, Sanderlin, a reporter at the Clarion Ledger, went viral on Twitter when he decided to live-tweet his journey, which he carried out at a Waffle House in Brandon, Mississippi. His popularity is no surprise—this is the kind of wholehearted madness the internet loves.
“I am coming to you live from a Brandon, Mississippi Waffle House. I, a total loser, came in last place in my fantasy football league,” Sanderlin wrote in a Thursday tweet that had received more than 119,700 likes, 18,700 retweets, and 11,100 quote tweets at the time our blog was published. “As punishment, I spend 24 hours in a Waffle House. Every waffle I eat shaves an hour off the clock. It’s 4:07 Central.”
Sanderlin started off strong. He successfully scarfed down the first two waffles he ate, handily scratching off two hours from his sentence. The high didn’t last long though. While he worked on two more waffles, he reported that he was “dead on the inside.” Sanderlin did manage to get waffles three and four down, bringing his total time served to one hour and a half. His “immense discomfort” had begun, and his tweets starting picking up a lot of traction.
It didn’t get easier from there, but the journalist’s tweets did get more entertaining. Besides commenting on his stomach and the waffles, Sanderlin gave the audience a rundown of what was happening in the restaurant. Some kids chose to play “Eye of the Tiger” at the TouchTunes jukebox, which inspired him to get another waffle.
In another shocking revelation, Sanderlin said his league commissioner had informed him that he could sit in the parking lot and also puke if needed to without being penalized. Four hours in and five waffles down, the journalist reported that the waffles were “going down like cement now.” He stated that his heart was beating “real heavy-like,” and folks, I’m not a doctor, but I would guess that’s because of the food and stress this man was under.
Unfortunately, Sanderlin’s troubles don’t stop there, and he proceeds to puke. At this point, he had consumed six waffles. Two merciful souls proceeded to give him Rolaids, the pills used to treat heartburn and acid indigestion. Sanderlin then spent some time in his car to charge his phone and got some coffee to try to make some room in his stomach, if you know what I mean. Back in his “waffle home,” he tried to conquer his seventh waffle. It took him more than three hours.
After a few more twists and turns, Sanderlin scarfs down his eighth waffle. He only had one more to go until he could go home. Finally, 15 hours and nine waffles later, Sanderlin left the restaurant. Through it all, the man captivated Twitter, earning thousands of interactions on his posts and generating delight and awe on the social media platform. He also garnered some insults, in the “oh I bet I could do it in less time” vein, but haters going to hate.
“The sun is rising, it’s a new day and I’m never eating waffles again,” he wrote on Twitter. “That’s 9 waffles and 15 hours in this restaurant. S/o to the staff for letting me hang out on a slow night (I tipped them well don’t worry). This was horrible and I recommend no one ever do this.”
After the emotional turmoil we’ve all been through over the last year and then some, Sanderlin’s tale is the comedic tragedy we all need. Although it was clearly not fun, I admire the man for honoring his loss and choosing to share his grief, and his face right after puking in the bushes, with us all. We could all use more laughter nowadays.
Sanderlin wrote his own account of the experience over at the Clarion Ledger, which is definitely worth a read. You can also watch him in a video at hour six of the Waffle House saga in which he reports he feels “like trash” and is “full of regret.” Alas, the price of hubris.