Donkey Kong doctor loses throne, bragging rights

A New York plastic surgeon is defeated by a hot-sauce magnate. Will he try again?

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Aug. 24, 2010

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The reign of Hank Chien, MD, as the king of Donkey Kong has come to an end. But the New York plastic surgeon hints that he has plans to retake the throne.

Dr. Chien became the reigning champion of the video game staple on Feb. 26. He spent a snowbound night in his Manhattan apartment racking up a score of 1,061,700, beating a 3-year-old record held by hot-sauce magnate Billy Mitchell. Mitchell was the nominal villain of the 2007 documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," which inspired Dr. Chien to take up the game.

Mitchell retook his record on a machine in Florida, beating Dr. Chien's by 1,100 points -- then quit the game. The record was announced Aug. 7, on the eve of the opening party for the new International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa, Iowa, which includes Mitchell as one of its inaugural honorees.

He stopped his game after 2 hours and 42 minutes, as soon as he beat Dr. Chien's score, according to a news release by Twin Galaxies, which verifies video game records. Dr. Chien set his record in 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Mitchell's statement as to why he quit his game: "Some say I'm being cocky. Some say I'm being lazy. I say I'm just being Billy Mitchell."

Dr. Chien had some inkling before the official announcement that his record had been broken. On his Facebook page, Dr. Chien wrote on Aug. 5: "What I really want for my birthday is my Donkey Kong world record back." He turned 36 on Aug. 4.

Although it is customary for former video game champions to place a congratulatory call to a new champ when their records are broken, Mitchell never telephoned Dr. Chien when the plastic surgeon became the titleholder in February. When asked if he planned to call Mitchell, Dr. Chien said he had heard that Mitchell planned to call him instead, but as of this article's deadline, there has been no call from Mitchell.

It sounds as if Dr. Chien is planning to get his record back. "Let's just say you haven't heard the last of me yet," he said in an e-mail to American Medical News.

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