An Excerpt from the MohMotion Interview in Issue 3.
Mo is a nearly-professional-but-still-amateur eater from Arizona. He currently has over 300k followers on TikTok. I spoke to Mo over Facetime, knowing how hard he would be to track down during his food challenge tour of America. We discussed his thoughts on food waste in the country, how he deals with hyperthyroidism, his perspective on social media, and how he maintains his incredible optimism.
So where are you at right now?
So right now I’m actually in Houston, Mississippi. The reason I came out here in the first place was for a $500 Electric Chair Burger Challenge. It was supposed to just be a cool little 12 hours in this city and then I was supposed to hit Dallas for a retwist. But, actually something had happened with the owner and he had closed up shop and had left for four days. So I was going to be stranded out here for four days but luckily I connected on Tik Tok with—at this point this is my brother—Jordan, who let me stay at his crib for four days until I could do the challenge. So I did the challenge last night and tonight at 11:50 I should be headed to Dallas.
So this was just a fan from TikTok who hit you up?
Man, just a real ass person, a genuinely nice human. He saw the situation and wanted me to come do the challenge and he was just like, “Damn, let me help bro out. Let me make this possible”. So he really put this shit in motion.
That’s crazy to see how ‘ride or die’ your fan base is for you.
That shit is crazy to me, bro. Like, when you say fan base I almost have to laugh because I’m just a regular human. In real life we’re all just people. I look at everyone as equal. So for people to look up to me and tell me that I inspire them—that’s some shit that blew my mind because I don’t even inspire myself. So, for me to inspire someone is really life changing for me.
So those people that are talking about how you inspire them—are they talking in terms of food eating challenges or like as a human?
@mohmotion 2 in 1 day #winner #chicken #dinner #food #pork #brisket #bread #onion #fries #foodies #foodchallenge #snack #hungry #competition #arizona #fyp ♬ original sound – MOMOTION
I mean, some people tell me that I’ve helped them gain their appetite. Like when they can’t eat, they watch my videos and they eat. Or when they’re trying to bulk and gain weight then they watch my videos and they eat. Or some people have told me that when they’re feeling depressed they’ll listen to what I have to say about my life, or just the situations that I’ve been in and then they’ll be like, “okay, his situation is like this and he has this mindset. My situation is like this, and I have this mindset. How could I change that?”
Just to give some context—who are you and what do you do?
People would say I’m a professional eater but, I mean, I essentially travel around the globe just doing food challenges, trying to make my fans happy.
@mohmotion Replying to @icedoutbart who u tellin folks#breakfast #brunch #eating #mukbang #voiceover #eggs #bacon #sausage #pancakes #food #foodtiktok #fyp ♬ original sound – MOMOTION
Where does your Tik Tok name Mohmotion come from?
My name is Mohamed Benantsayi Miles Mbengue. So I’m African really. I’m from Senegal. Mohammed is my first name. Benantsayi—that’s Congolese. It stands for the goodhearted. My mom just named my middle name Miles because apparently she traveled a lot of miles with me.
What was your upbringing like?
I was adopted by a wonderful family out in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They changed my perspective on a lot of things and they changed how I view life. I used to be a lot more aggressive. I used to be a lot angrier. I used to be a much worse person. Like the ‘me’ from before definitely would have taken all that cash that the fans offered me. Not even because my heart has changed or anything, it’s just because I was in a much worse situation at that point and I had nobody. I was just used to being used. I really thought that there were no genuine people in this world, but they really showed me that genuine kindness is what’s gonna help the world.
Do you designate periods of time to go out on the road in the pursuit of food challenges and then come back home in a few months or something? Or do you just go off on a whim?
Essentially, when people tell me to go to a challenge, I have to see if it’s in my capability based upon the location of the challenge and my ability. Then, I’ll speak to my job and I’ll see how much time I can get off and then I’ll go try and do the challenge. My thing is that right now I’m trying to go to Arizona State University. I can’t go because of my transcripts, but I rent an apartment out there with my roommate. In Tempe, Scottsdale, ASU campus area, the area that we are at, there’s a plethora of challenges. You can take the bus and in five minutes you’re at your next challenge. So that’s what I was doing out there—smacking as many challenges as I could, after work, before work, on my days off. That’s what really blew me up, for real.
So you stopped taking challenges in your area because you completed them all?
The reason I stopped taking challenges in my area is because I had finished everything that was either profitable or were challenges they would let me do. Because at a point they were trying to claim I was a professional eater. Like, when I went to Maja Bar and Grill, which is a pizzeria out there, I had to eat 10 pounds of pizza in 30 minutes to get a chance at winning $300 or I’d have to pay the man $100. So after I beat that piece of challenge in 20 minutes, they officially claimed me as a professional eater. So I got to traveling.
How are you finding these challenges?
There’s an actual website called foodchallenges.com. And you just look up your state or your area and the challenges that are available to you will pop up. Some challenges will be pay to play, some will be if you win it in a certain time it’s free. Sometimes it’s money. But, it’s a gamble. It’s a real gamble, because the prices for the challenges if you lose are outrageous. Like, $100 or $150.
@mohmotion Yall think i can knock off another challenge tonight @6 #manvsfood #food #foodtiktok #foodchallenge #foodchallenges #lasvegas #pancakes #breakfast #brunch #eggs #syrup #butter #voiceover #spedup #fyp ♬ original sound – MOMOTION
What was your first food challenge?
Damn. I don’t even like social media, that’s the whole thing. I only started to ship because my friend was like, “Aye bro, you be eating crazy”. I’m like, that’s a fact. And he’s like, “Bro, there’s this one French fry challenge. If you win you get $400. It’s in Detroit.” I said, “Bet that’s right down the street!” So we slipped to this little challenge. It was seven pounds of French fries, a pound of bacon, a pound of shrimp, a pound of cheese, and a pound of ground beef. Bro, when I tell you that was the best meal I’ve ever had to date—I faced that and I was still hungry after. So everyone was just looking at me like I was insane. I’m thinking I just did some regular shit. So they paid me and everyone was lit. But they were like, “you should take this seriously because you know you’re the first person to finish this, right? Like, the only person who did this is a professional eater and you beat his time like crazy.” And so after that my friend just kept on taking me to the challenges and I kept on succeeding. That’s the most I ever won off a challenge though, for sure.
So your first challenge was the challenge you made the most money from? Is that what motivated you to keep doing them?
I think what motivated me to keep doing them is free food, I’m not gonna lie. These challenges and prizes are almost pointless to me. I’d rather see the restaurants where I win challenges stop throwing excess food away and instead give it to the homeless and make sure everyone in the world is fed. Because truthfully, in America, one of the biggest issues is food waste. Like, at Little Caesars they throw away freshly cooked pizza. Crumbl Cookies—freshly baked cookies out of the oven, straight into the trash. I’m trying to eliminate all that shit in the long run. But this is once I’m financially stable, because at this point in my life I’m just not there. I’m young, I don’t have parents that support me. I’m independent. So once I’m financially stable, every time I win a food challenge, I’m just gonna ask that they donate the prize or just just stop wasting food. I’m gonna try my best to fix the food waste in America in some way, shape, or form.
Yeah, because I would see videos on your Tik Tok of you after your shift at Pizza Hut coming home with bags and boxes of whatever leftovers they had.
Yeah, bro, all that is waste. All of those ten or however many boxes of pizza that people don’t pick up or were just made by accident, becomes waste. Like, why are you trying to throw away freshly cooked food? There’s homeless outside of Pizza Hut begging for food. Every time after I have the food people be asking, “why don’t you share?” Of course I share the food and give it to the homeless! But what do I look like going up to a homeless person when they’re begging me for food and putting my iPhone11 to their face? If I’m going to do something I’m going to do it genuinely, out of my own heart. That’s something I can’t record.
I saw that one clip of you giving those Crumbl Cookies to that server at Cici’s and you were speaking Spanish to him. He was mad confused.
@mohmotion CICIS BUFFET BUSSDOWN #mukbang #eatingshow #EAT #FOOD #pizza #cici #cicispizza #hungry #texas #fyp #cheese #bacon #sauce #buffet #foodtiktok #foodie ♬ original sound – MOMOTION
Bro, it’s funny because this is what had me fucked up. At that Cici’s nobody spoke English, bro. They all spoke Spanish except for that one worker who I gave the cookies to.
How did you learn Spanish initially?
Essentially, when my mother lost custody of me, she sent me to St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy, which is a school in Wisconsin. In Mexico, when you’re really misbehaving and your parents get fed up with you, they send you to boarding school in America. So all of the Mexicans there taught me Spanish to the point where I speak it better than English. I also learned Spanish before English in general because I moved from Dakar, Senegal to El Paso, Texas before I came to Michigan.
Does TikTok monetize your videos at all?
I’m not gonna lie, here’s the reality. You can really make TikTok money when you have 100,000 followers. I just reached 50k there. So the only way I can make money is if I go Live. And TikTok bans me from going live every single week and every time they ban me it’s like two weeks until I can go Live again. And it’s not even guaranteed I make money on Live, I only make money off gifts. So it’s up to the people if I make money.
So is that kind of why you started making the transition to Youtube because I know you’ve been trying to do that?
Yeah, I’ve had to. My people have been telling me I need to get on YouTube in general, but it’s hard because I only have a phone. A while ago, I let one of my friends borrow my computer for school. It was one of the MacBooks with the sliding tab bar, the new one. I spent two racks on that shit! I said, “Bro, you can use this, yes.” I haven’t seen my computer since. So, I had that laptop that I would have used for Youtube. I’m trying to get another one of them shits. But, it’s okay. And at the end of the day he can keep the computer, I’m not even tripping. He needed it for school. At this point, he’s a successful fitness trainer or whatnot and I’m proud of bro. Phil Austin, shoutout to you. I wish that you would give me my computer but I love you bro.
That’s crazy. I mean, that mentality is impressive.
You have to think—in this life you can either sink or you can swim. And, most of the time, you’re going to be challenged in life and if you choose to be in a bad mindset throughout that challenge, I want you to ask yourself a question: is that going to help you in any way, shape, or form? Or is that going to negatively affect you and make you not succeed? Because at the end of the day, if you have a challenge and you think positively and you try your best you’re going to do much better than if you just have a negative mindset. And if you maintain that positive mindset through the trials and tribulations, it’s going to stick with you and you’re only going to succeed.
I think I saw that mentality from you the most when you were sleeping in that Walmart parking lot on your way to that food challenge. Can you walk me through that whole conundrum?
@mohmotion Replying to @yardfit goodnight from da garage #walmart #garage #texas #sleep #bed #concrete #parking #lot #fyp ♬ original sound – MOMOTION
Yeah, that’s sleeping in the parking lot shit—everyone was thinking I’m homeless. I’m in no way, shape, or form homeless. I’m working, I’m decent. It was just on the train ride from Phoenix to San Antonio I had gotten my wallet stolen. So that had my ID, my everything in it. So when I tried to get a motel or anything I was denied. There was nowhere for me to stay. It was just bad for me at the time. I wasn’t going to bother anybody, so I decided to take my blanket, grab my bags, grab a little shopping cart, and get inside the Walmart parking lot so that I had a roof over my head for the night. And then I went to bed. I was trying to sleep but the concrete is a little bit hard. I wasn’t tripping though. I was on my phone until it died. And sadly that video blew up. I didn’t really want that to blow up like that, because everyone thought I was homeless and it was irritating and there’s people who still think I’m homeless today.
Yeah, I think that was around the time that I found your TikTok. I saw some other dudes’ video where you were challenged to eat a three pound burrito in like 60 seconds or something? So I had to go to your profile and check out the results. And then I saw your whole situation.
Bro, cuz it’s crazy. I had a three pound burrito in one minute and four seconds for a chance to win $11,000, bro. Oh my goodness, that would have been life changing. The first thing I was going to do with that money was buy my baby sister a piano. I didn’t succeed, but I got the burrito for free. I definitely ate in under four minutes. I think I got like, three minutes and 11 seconds. But after that, I was thinking how I didn’t make any profit. There’s no way I can leave this place without making any profit. So I’m like, “What challenge can you give me for me to make some profit?” The guy was like, “Okay, if you think you’re about it, I have an eight pound burrito and you have to eat in 20 minutes.” And I’m like, damn, I just ate this three pound burrito, but whatever, fuck it, I gotta make some profit. I ate that eight pound burrito in 20 minutes and made $200.
@mohmotion 8lb burrito challenge #eating #foodchallenge #win #dub #voiceover #eatingshow #burrito #fries #meat #rice #cheese #food #foodie #texas ♬ original sound – MOMOTION
But you went into the three pound burrito thinking you were going to take the dub?
I’m not gonna lie. I knew I was gonna lose.
Has anyone won that, do you know?
In my opinion, the number one professional leader in the world, James Webb. He’s Australia’s number one professional eater. He destroyed that shit. I’m talking, chomp, swallow, chomp, swallow. So he set the record of 64 seconds while beating somebody else’s record of like a minute and 50 seconds. That was not another professional eater who set that one minute and 50 seconds. But that’s what I’m saying—these people train, that’s the issue. I don’t train, I just be hungry for real. I’m just a hungry youngin’ and these folks are spending real time training.
Yeah! I’ve seen your regular meals and they’d be Eating Challenge portions.
Man, I just be hungry!
You’ll be dipping a dozen doughnuts into a jar of sugar for breakfast.
That’s the thing with hyperthyroidism. I lose weight at an excessive rate. So to maintain any weight on my body I have to do a bunch of bullshit. So if you were to see me out and about at a grocery store you would see maybe 50 Donuts inside my bag with like a pound of sugar and some other cakes and shit. I have to tweak out, sadly.
Who are some of your role models in terms of food eating? Or content creation?
I never really was on social media or anything. When I was a kid bro, me and my mom never had a good relationship. Like, I wanted to watch TV but we never had cable or TV in the house. She tried to have me do Kumon math books and forced me to read all day. So I never really watched anyone or anything growing up, and so I never had any of those role models. At this point, I’ll say a role model to me is Joel Hansen. I like the way he comports himself. He’s a healthy person. He’s a very good influence. And I aspire to be a good influence at the end of the day as well. One thing I probably have to stop doing is smoking weed. I mean, I don’t know, that’s just something I do just to cope. I have lost a lot of people in my life, so I cope with that in that way. I probably would say everyone has a coping mechanism, but I don’t want to post that stuff. So I’m trying to be a better influence to the people. It’s a lot of children that follow me and I don’t want every single young kid in America to start smoking weed because Mohmotion smokes weed.
Do you smoke before your challenges?
Man I’m not gonna lie, I’m high a lot. So for sure. For sure. But, but that’s not what makes me eat a lot. You will still see me eat the exact same amount of food whether I’m high or not.
@mohmotion 2 THE #food #foodtiktok #eating #spaghetti #noodles #sauce #meatballs #munchies #dinner #cold #basement #bussin #fyp #munch #dinnerwithme ♬ original sound – MOMOTION
What’s some advice you have for someone trying to come up during food challenges?
I would say go to the buffet, and just try to eat as much as you can without vomiting. Once you feel like you’re full and you really can’t eat anymore, you better stop eating and see if you can stomach it. Because I digest really fast, so it’s hard for me to get full. I would say watch Joel Hanson on YouTube and I would say just look up foodchallenges.com and look at the difficulty of the food challenge in your area. At first start with the beginner, because obviously you’re a beginner, if you’re just learning and starting out. And as you keep trying food challenges and succeeding or failing, you can increase your difficulty based upon your success. I would say most definitely don’t try to do what I’m doing. Like people may see it as fun, but like, don’t. If you’re not financially stable, or if you don’t have a car, don’t tweak out and take the bus to a random city. I’ll never advise someone to do that, especially someone of my age. It’s a lot of younger people that follow me. I’m 19, but there’s younger people that follow me. I wouldn’t advise anyone younger than me to ever do what I’m doing. Because it’s a scary world. I’m gonna say that.
What’s your favorite meal to eat even outside of food challenges?
Mangoes. No question about it. The thing is, I drink an insane amount of water. That’s really the only beverage I drink. Unless people bring some mango flavored drink.
Have you heard of mango lassi? It’s a mango smoothie with yogurt.
I need to try for sure. You just put me on. Also, people who criticize my sugar intake have to understand I don’t drink any soda. I know people who drink 12 cans of Mountain Dew to the face. That’s a lot of sugar.
What do you think makes someone a superstar?
I think what makes someone a superstar is their influence. Almost all stars shine but only a superstar is gonna light up the world.