Large cheese pizza with extra controversy at Three Brothers contest
This picture says it all. Sort of, at least. Pat Philbin is definitely no loser (ranked #10 in the world), but on Saturday he was a winner -- for about 30 seconds -- and then saw his fourth place finish stripped away.
We had all exited the stage after the Three Brothers International Pizza Eating Championship in Greenbelt, Maryland while they counted up the damage that the 18 eaters had done. But they'd counted too fast and before they'd realized it, Pat had already been called on stage as the #4 finisher. With his plaque and $250 check in hand, they realized their mistake so they took back the prizes and recounted. Unfortunately Pat wasn't in the top four after the recount, but he took it like a champ by having one of the mall face painting ladies brand him appropriately.
After the dust had settled, Pat Bertoletti (who came in as the odds on favorite) won it with 19 slices in 10 minutes to win the $2,500 prize. He was followed by Chip Simpson with 16 1/2 slices ($1,500), Bob Shoudt (15 slices, $750) and Larry McNeil (13 slices, $250). For the record, I ate 8 slices. A no-dunking rule was in effect, but to make up for it, they made crusts optional. The catch, of course, was that every four crusts would discount one slice from your total. So, if you ate your entire 8-slice pie but left the crusts, you would be credited with 6 slices.
All in all, it was a great contest. Even though it was in her own backyard, Sonya was not there. She was in Hong Kong where she would win a lotus seed bun eating competition by dowing 17 in 12 minutes (that's a helluva feat. . .those lotus seed buns are a bitch!). However, lots of other great ranked eaters were in attendance, including some good representation from Pennsylvania (myself, Steakbellie, Pete Miernicky, Bob Shoudt and Brian Subich. Chip Simpson -- from Florida, but goes to Slippery Rock U. in Pa. -- was also there.)
The mall was a little weird though. By weird, I mean kind of crappy. Heather and I got there at about 11 am to do some shopping (eaters were told to report at 1 pm for a 2 pm contest). Only problem is, there wasn't much shopping to be done. I went upstairs thinking all the cool stores were up there, but the only thing on the second floor was a Value City. The mall did have a Gold's Gym and a seedy lingerie shop with a nice selection of, er, lotions. There was a wig shop too. I went in there looking for something to make an Italian-style handlebar mustache out of to wear during the contest, but I didn't have any luck.
All in all, the pizza was pretty good as far as mall pizza is concerned. Very cheesy with thick sauce, warm and soft throughout. This was the first contest I've ever been in (pro or amateur) in which jaw strength came into play. At about the five minute mark, my jaw started aching from all the tiny, corn-on-the-cob-like bites and chewing I was doing. My pace slowed down after I hit the 6-minute wall which allowed my jaw to recoup, but others -- like Bertoletti -- commented afterward about sore jaws. Below is a shot of Bertoletti signing for some fans after the show.
After the crowd dispursed and the eaters had said their goodbyes, Heather, Krista (of Urban Honking fame), Pat Bertoletti and I piled into my car and headed into D.C. where Krista's sister, Celia, was celebrating her birthday. Cramming Pat's giant check and three-foot trophy into my Oldsmobile Alero was a challenge, but we managed (hint, neither the trophy nor the check would fit in my trunk).
During the trip we talked about our guilty pleasures when it comes to music and Pat -- a man with a love of punk rock (whodathunkit?) and a bunch of other bands I've never heard of -- revealed who he keeps buried deep within his iPod. I won't divulge it here except to say that she kinda rocks. . .at least more than her sister.
Liz (also from Urban Honking) and her husband J met us at the party. The affair consisted of lots of beer, lesbians, a highly contested scavenger hunt and plenty of meat on a stick. In other words, it rocked.
A full set of photos from the contest can be seen here.