Friends, family, barflies and even a ping-pong legend helped raise $7,000 for a toothless paddle jockey trying to ride his table tennis talent — and stamina — to a new set of pearly whites.
Jamie “Gums” Mandel is now on his way to a million-dollar smile after the 15-hour “Pong for Teeth” marathon at B61 bar on Columbia Street on Saturday, an unprecedented display of boozy competition and genuine camaraderie.
“My game got better as the night wore on,” said Mandel of the epic contest. “But it was really hard trying to bend down and pick up all the balls because my body was hurting.”
The toothless folk hero took on about 100 people, all of whom paid a $20 minimum in a mostly futile effort to defeat him. More money was raised through a PayPal account.
Mandel even played a trio of games against ping pong icon Marty “The Needle” Reisman — and lost in all three.
“The whole idea was to get out there and raise money for what is a vital situation for him,” said Reisman, 81. “The question of whether I would lose to him was never an issue.”
Mandel, 34, lost nine teeth in a car accident in 1995, and is still a long way from the $35,000 he’ll need for the entire job.
The money from the event will help pay his most recent set of dental bills, and the rest will go on a credit card, he said.
Now that’s American!