My goal of making my New Year’s resolution – competing in a watermelon-eating contest – come true has been progressing nicely thus far. I’ve identified a contest to compete in and performed fairly well in my first practice run at eating lots of watermelon really fast.
For the next step, I decided to reach out to someone who’s currently consuming tons of food on a regular basis to ask him a few questions about the art of competitive eating.
For my interview, I turned to Pat Bertoletti (that’s him above), a 28-year-old Chicago native who was once ranked by the International Federation of Competitive Eating as the #2 competitive eater in the world. Pat retired from full-time competition last year to focus his attention on culinary pursuits, including starting a food truck called Glutton Force Five.
His competitive eating resumé is impressive, to say the least. Among some of the highlights of his career is eating 47 slices of pizza in 10 minutes, 275 pickled jalapeno peppers in 10 minutes, and 55 hot dogs in 10 minutes during the annual July 4 hot dog eating contest.
The most impressive thing about Pat’s career is that he’s won more than $240,000 dollars (that’s right, almost a quarter of a million dollars) in eating contests. In other words, he knows a thing or two about winning these things.
Your Wikipedia page says that, when you’re not training for your next big contest, you spend time collecting rubber bands to add to your rubber band ball. How’s the ball coming?
I gave up on the rubber band ball. It’s only fun in the beginning when the ball grows quickly. At the time I was using a lot of asparagus at work, and I saved the rubber bands from that. When the seasons changed, my source went away!
Speaking of training, I don’t want to “over-train” or burn myself out before my contest in July. What should I be doing between now and then to get myself ready?
Burning out is never good. Stick with healthy foods you enjoy eating a large amount of, and top it all off with some water. If you do that, you should be good.
You competed in a watermelon-eating contest way back in 2005 – your rookie year. You ate 12.9 pounds in 15 minutes, so you’re familiar with the food I’m up against. Any general tips for conquering the watermelon?
Watermelon is a great food to eat in contest. It’s high water content makes for a food that’s easy to eat a lot of. Practicing for a watermelon eating contest is a real treat, because you never really tired of it!
Last question, and I’m sure it’s something that’s on the minds of competitive eating fans everywhere. You’ve been semi-retired for about a year now. Any plans to make a comeback and compete at the top level again someday?
Hard to say. It’s great to be somewhat retired, because I can focus on other things. Who knows, I may come out of retirement for the July 4 hot dog contest after Joey Chestnut retires!
Thanks for taking some time to share some of your wisdom, Pat. Good luck with the food truck!