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LaRue Reunited with Long-Lost Half Brother Through Eating Fame

Jammin' Joe LaRue, the chicken wing-eating champion of Florida, was separated from his half brother, Bob Capino, more than 40 years ago. Joe had heard that a brother existed, but he had never met him. Then one day he received a phone call from a man who had read about Joe in a newspaper profile.

Bob Capino had grown up with the Sisters of Mercy in Binghampton, NY, after his mother, a troubled young woman gave him up immediately after birth. Binghampton was a small town and when Bob was a boy, he knew who his mother was and that she had eventually married and had three more sons. These brothers were a powerful emotional force in Bob's life, even though he did not know them.

As the years moved on Bob moved on from the Sisters of Mercy and built his own life in Florida. The psychological bruises from Bob's youth never disappeared, but the pain became easier to endure.

Then, in 2003, Bob happened to read a feature on Joe LaRue, a competitive eater who recounted the trials he experienced in his youth in Binghampton, NY. The name, LaRue, struck a bell and the details of Joe's story, including the mentions of a troubled mother, caused goose bumps to rise on Bob's neck.

Bob called the reporter who wrote the story and the reporter called Joe to explain that a man claiming to be his half brother was looking to reconnect. When Joe called Bob the emotion was palpable and when they met they found remarkable similarities in everything including sense of humor.

While it is no surprise that two natives of Binghampton would flee the city, it is a significant that Joe had settled in the same region as his half brother.

Forty-plus years may seem like a long time to some, but to Joe and Bob it is nothing. the brothers have picked up a relationship that never started. And though they grew up separately they are as close as any brothers.

And so, when Joe slips off his shoes and mounts the stage in Jacksonville, Florida, for the Krystal Square Off Qualifier, there is one man in the crowd leading the cheering -- his brother Bob.