Why you should care

Because watching others eat bugs never gets old.

Before he put himself in the position to earn $80 million in what was billed as the richest fight in the history of boxing, against Floyd “Money” Mayweather this past May, Manny Pacquiao was just a boxer. He was awaiting his big break — boxing or otherwise. In the mid-2000s, the fighter who would eventually become boxing’s first eight-division world champion, elected to the Philippine House of Representatives and easily the most popular figure in the Philippines today found himself on the Filipino game show Extra Challenge.

The clip is from 2004, which would be right around the time Pacquiao burst onto the American boxing scene with a stunningly one-sided drubbing of Mexican warrior Marco Antonio Barrera to become featherweight champion. It’s clear that Pacquiao is far from becoming the living legend he is today — but he’s just enough of a familiar face to be recognized in public.

Bamboo worms (10 pieces for 500 baht), silk worms (five pieces for 1,000 baht), crickets (five pieces for 3,000 baht), stink bugs (two pieces for 5,000 baht) and/or water bugs (three pieces for 15,000 baht). Whatever he and his spouse eat, they earn.

The show — which is patterned after American reality-based shows such as Survivor, The Amazing Race and Fear Factor — features celebrities pitted against one another in a number of physical and mental challenges, and rewarded in the Thai currency of baht (32 baht equals US$1). Pacquiao’s segment is titled “Exotic Thai Food” and finds the future world champion at odds with a foreign insect buffet for his challenge. Pacquiao, with his wife Jinkee in tow, is tasked to eat the following: bamboo worms (10 pieces for 500 baht), silk worms (five pieces for 1,000 baht), crickets (five pieces for 3,000 baht), stink bugs (two pieces for 5,000 baht) and/or water bugs (three pieces for 15,000 baht). Whatever he and his spouse eat, they earn.

As fearless as he has been in the ring against bigger and stronger competition, the fighter known as Pac-Man shudders at the thought of making a meal out of these undesirables. But it’s Jinkee who makes the first move, as Pacquiao watches, in equal parts horror and admiration, his wife inhale five crickets and five silk worms to the tune of 4,000 baht.

The Filipino, as in his boxing career, opts to go for the gusto and reaches for the water bug. He peels it, grimaces at the insect’s stench and tosses it into his mouth. Always the entertainer, Pacquiao masks his revulsion by doing a little dance that amuses the small group of people watching. But he’s not done. The assignment calls for him to ingest a second water bug. Without hesitation — and with the host coaxing him by suggesting it will help his sex life — Pacquiao deposits the second and third bugs into his mouth. He visibly has a difficult time fighting off his gag reflex, but he manages just fine.

The duo of Manny and Jinkee earned 19,000 baht (or $582) for their creepy-crawler delicacies. It’s a far cry from what Pacquiao earns today, which is north of $300 million. But at the end of the day, Pacquiao has always done what he has done for the people. And if he is willing to munch on a trio of water bugs for $460, what do you think he’s willing to do against Mayweather for $80 million?

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