"Heart Attack Grill" spokesman dies at 29

This undated photo shows Blair River, 29, of Mesa, Ariz. Luci Scott,AP Photo/The Arizona Republic

PHOENIX - A 575-pound man who gained a measure of fame as spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill — a Phoenix-area restaurant that unabashedly touts its unhealthy, high-calorie menu — has died.

Friends of 29-year-old Blair River say he died Tuesday, possibly from contracting pneumonia after a bout with the flu.

Restaurant founder Jon Basso tells The Arizona Republic that River was more than the larger-than-life caricature he portrayed in promoting the restaurant in Chandler, which includes huge hamburgers, milkshakes and fries cooked in lard on its menu.

Basso says River was a creative genius who had been planning to take part in the shooting of a promotional spot called, "Heart Attack Grill: The Musical."

The 6-foot-8 River was an Arizona state heavyweight wrestling champion in 1999.

As Basso told Bill Geist on CBS' "Sunday Morning" in 2008, "Our motto is simple: Taste worth dying for."

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