Turkey bowling is coming to a grocery near you
When we last heard from the sport of turkey bowling (SCORECARD, May 30, 1988), it was still in its basting stage. Now, more than three years later, turkey bowling, which involves knocking down 10 two-liter bottles of Coke by sliding a frozen turkey at them from 45 feet away, and its creator, 32-year-old former supermarket stock boy, Chippendales dancer and Los Angeles Ram cheerleader, Derrick (DJ) Johnson, have attained a measure of national recognition.
"I have to admit, this thing has mushroomed into total stupidity," says Johnson. Indeed, the sport that was created by Johnson and a group of bored stock boys working the overnight shift at a Newport Beach, Calif., supermarket has turned into a full-time career for Johnson, who has raised some $25,000 for charity by enlisting sponsors for his fowl play.
Despite turkey bowling's newfound cachet, several corporations have done their best to knock the stuffing out of the sport. Butterball, the only brand of turkey that Johnson uses, has become his nemesis. "I hear from them once a year or so," says Johnson, who prefers the Butterball birds because the handles affixed to their packages make them easier to fling than other turkeys. "They've threatened to sue me unless I stop associating their name with the sport. But I tell them that when I buy their turkeys, I can do whatever I want with them. Besides, I tell them that if they worked with me, they'd probably sell more turkeys than ever. Some people just take themselves too seriously. Pepsi paid me $3,000 not to use their bottle. Come on guys, loosen up."
While Johnson has gobbled up most of the attention he has gotten, he is still a little puzzled by it. "Can you imagine? People recognize me on the street and ask me for my autograph. This gets bigger every year, and I still haven't figured out why," he says. But mindful of the season, Johnson adds, "I am thankful."