A decade ago, super heavyweight Eric Esch—better known as “Butterbean”—was both scoffed at and revered as a fighter due to his plump 400-pound figure. The man was a four-round fighting machine who took his vicious one-punch power from a run as a Toughman and boxing champion to WWF Wrestlemania to K1 Kickboxing and to MMA. Butterbean was the one sports figure that—like many Americans—disregarded almost all fitness and health norms while attaining athletic and monetary success. Heck, the one and only time he went on a diet of chicken and butterbeans (to cut down to a portly 400 pounds) it coined his now celebrated persona.
Now, imagine supplanting that bald-headed and pork-bellied persona into the scene from Goodfellas where cops bust Ray Liotta, as Lorraine Bracco flushes cocaine down the toilet. Imagine Butterbean with a deputy’s outfit as he scours Liotta’s pipes for traces of cocaine. Or even better: imagine Butterbean with beads of sweat dripping from the top of his head, as he is a cop in an episode of AMC’s Breaking Bad. That’s what you will get on Aug. 9., with the premier of Investigative Discovery’s new show Big Law: Deputy Butterbean. Esch brings that fighter’s persona to television as a reserve deputy in the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, where he cracks down on meth labs, cocaine dealers and marijuana houses in his hometown of Jasper, Ala. Half-hour episodes will premier back-to-back every Tuesday night beginning the Aug. 9, concluding with search-and-rescue and aid missions in tornado-ravaged Alabama.
Taking his persona to a reality show that mixes elements of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Cops seems to be the logical next step for the charismatic fighter. And Butterbean fans can still take solace in the fact that he is a 400-pound one-of-a-kind guy, more concerned with his humanity than his physical fitness and appearance. He’s still bucking trends, the only difference this time is he just may have become more intimidating. Let’s put it this way: he’s traded in those American Flag trunks for a taser and a gun.