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On Monday, I made my first and likely last foray into the high stakes world of competitive eating. There was a slider eating contest at the local catholic center here at Umass, and I couldn’t let this amazing opportunity pass me by. It was slated to get started at 7:00pm, so me and my roommate John got there a little bit early and sat around, looking as all the different food athletes made their way into the basement of the church. There is a café in the back of the basement, and a small crowd of large people had gathered around, entering their information onto the competitive eating bracket sheet.
This was the third year of the contest, and we were standing in the shadow of some culinary giants. The year before, the first year of team competition, a team managed to eat fifteen slider hamburgers in one minute and fifteen seconds. The year before, a solitary individual had managed to consume fifteen sliders in just over three minutes. I gulped, looking at my partner John, as we were surrounded by the very wide and hungry looking competitors and entered our team name.
The problem John and I (team name—Wet Willies) faced was that all the other teams had the maximum number of people allowed, three. John and I, while eager and certainly hungry, were only two, so we were extremely disadvantaged. The format of the event was that of the nine teams that signed up, there would be three heats, consisting of three teams each. The winners of these heats would advance to the finals for the final chow-down. Wet-Willies was in the third and final group, so I got comfortable, furiously called everyone who might be willing to join our team (no one would) and got ready for the show.
Three competitors were the obvious favorites, and they were the first to compete. They were members of a local Frat, and went by the name Pike. They were very large, very sweaty men, clad in frat t-shirts and pennies, and generally elicited praise and admiration from their frat brothers who had come out in mass to cheer them on, and fear from everyone else. They had filled up three big buckets with water, and while the other two teams sat around the table, they hovered over the sliders like hungry vultures circling. These were real deal competitive eaters, and we were all amateurs.
They destroyed the record. Everyone was shocked, and they celebrated with much jumping nd belly bumping. The burgers were all gone in a minute and eight seconds. The next closest team had only eaten maybe one third of what Pike had done. They joined their frat to celebrate, waiting for the finals eagerly.
In-between rounds the Newman Center would have their very attractive wait staff clean off the slobber and bits of food that had fallen from the lips of the eaters onto the tables. This was, of course, very funny, as these modelish girls grimaced through the gross job of cleaning to the cheers and smiles of frat boys and eating kings.
Second round had a clear favorite as well, with a team called Chum beating out the other squads. However, it still took them twice as long as Pike. There was a clear favorite in this contest.
Finally, John and I took the table, along with two other teas, and got ready to eat. We were short a man, and desperate. A guy walked by, and he looked friendly enough, so we invited him to join the team in the last moment. He decided a free dinner was worth it, sat down at the table with us, and we were a complete squad. Little did I know we had recruited a secret eating machine. Dillon would be the Wet-Willies secret weapon, and our great flickering hope against our competition.
More in part two
--The Last second Swallow!
-- The Finals!
-- Glory, cholesterol, and vomit!
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