We think we've found the answer—and it originates in Australia.
On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 99-91, tying the first round of the Western Conference playoffs at 1–1. The Clippers outrebounded the Jazz 60-38, Blake Griffin had 24 points, and, most importantly, a man in a playoff-motto "It Takes Everything" t-shirt drank a beer out of his own shoe. That's the highlight that everyone is talking about.
As House of Pain's "Jump Around" blasted in the stadium, the as-yet-unidentified Clippers fan poured a beer into that unfortunate left shoe, raised it to his mouth and chugged the ounces that didn't splash all over his shirt. I have so many questions (mostly "Why?"), but I'm also grossed out by the idea of wearing one wet, beer-clammy shoe for the rest of the night.
The scene was first tweeted by Bleacher Report, with an appropriate caption of "Ummmmmm….." followed by the thinking emoji. Although many of the responses were some variation of "WTF?" others said that Shoe Dude had to be Australian, or identified the gesture as a "shoey," which is an Australian custom of, yeah, shotgunning beers out of your own footwear. (Australians make their own fun, when they're not being dragged into the undergrowth and eaten by massive spiders.)
They're probably right. Shoeys have been A Thing in Australia since...well, no one is sure of the exact origin. Writer Katie Cunningham tried to figure it all out in an exhaustively researched piece and she got a lot of conflicting stories, although many of them credited Tasmanian punk band Luca Brasi with the idea to chug beer out of their shoes; the Luca Brasi guys were known to do shoeys as early as 2010.
Others said the shoey started with The Mad Hueys, a surf-and-fishing crew led by brothers Shaun and Dean Harrington, while still others credited a running club called the Hash House Harriers, who forced any member who wore new shoes to drink a beer out of one of those previously untarnished kicks. Regardless, the shoey went mainstream—at least in Australia —when Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo chugged champagne from his shoe after winning the German Grand Prix last summer.
"I didn't start it," Ricciardo told News.Com.Au "Well, as far as I know I started it in F1 but not worldwide. It was a few loose Aussies, from what I saw, the Mad Hueys—they're surfies and fisherman and just loose guys. They travel the world fishing, surfing and whatever and they like to drink a bit of beer and whatnot, and that's where the shoey began."
Or maybe it was those Tasmanian punks. Or maybe pouring beer into your Vans is just a bastardized DIY version of Germany's bierstiefel—a boot-shaped drinking glass—that was based on a German military ritual. According to Philly Beer Scene, a long-forgotten Prussian general told his troops that he'd drink from his own boot if they won the next battle. (He had a glass one made so he didn't have to go Full Clipper Fan and "taste his feet.") Another possibly apocryphal origin story says that German soldiers drank from a boot before each battle, in the hopes that it would give them luck. Or ringworm.
Either way, the Clippers and Jazz face each other again tonight. That dude's shoe should be dry and ready for a refill by then.