Well this certainly doesn't fit in with anything else I've filmed, but it's nice to do something different every once in awhile, especially when it involves french fries. The North American Collegiate Eating Championships were this past Friday and Saturday in San Diego, and what better place is there to stay inside and eat fried foods than San Diego? None I say. Apparently, this is the first year of the event, and it's part of a bigger series put on by CBS Sports called The Collegiate Nationals, that'll air in late May. I liked telling people I got a special exemption to participate in the qualifying round as if I were some washed up golfer, but really, CBS was just nice about the whole thing and happy to see some more coverage. The only other thing you need to know going in is that I came up with my own strategy of eating nothing but baby carrots and water all day as a way to not fill up, but still stretch my stomach. My fairly dominating performance is proof that I somehow got lucky, because honestly, I'm not that bright. Here comes the stuffin':
Hooray! San Diego! Oh...
This is me signing up and filling out a release. They ask for a nickname, so I went with Dan "The Apprehensive Newcomer" Rubenstein. I have no idea why my face is that color, let's chalk it up to the carrots.
We talked to the manager for a little while and when we made sure that it was ok to film his sign as an establishing shot, he was thankful and brought out a giant appetizer sampler for us on the house. This was before the competition, so I somehow managed to not eat any of this.
Camera Guy Esa was less than gracious about how delicious everything tasted. At this point (about 90 min before the competition), I was borderline losing my balance I was so hungry. God, I'm dumb.
The table where the match was to go down. The puke buckets aren't pictured, but as you can probably imagine, people that put on eating contests have plenty of experience with "reversals," and they come prepared with top notch buckets. Picture what a really rich horse would eat from, and there you have our reversal receptacles.
I'm not sure that anyone of any consequence from the University of Oregon will ever see this episode or blog, but if they do, I'm so very sorry for representing the school by jamming fried potato sticks into my mouth in a disgusting fashion. Also, for the free publicity, may I please have free football tickets fo' life?
The governing body's chairman, Arnie "Chowhound" Chapman is to the right. As you may have noticed, he seemed like a normal, if not a little overly passionate guy in the video. Once the ears were put on, he became downright possessed, although I'm not sure if it's ok for a person of this age to be wearing fake doggy ears.
(Please let them be fake.)
I was in the third heat, but this guy (I believe his name was Shane), stole the show. He listed himself at 5'12", 300 lbs, used hot sauce on his fries, and at one point wrote "Be Back in Five" on his name plate, and then left to walk around. Total showman, hard to top.
Don't make me beg, Oregon Athletic Department.
I brought my own BBQ sauce that I picked up on the way down from LA. If I'm gonna destroy my insides, I'm at least going to make sure it tastes pretty good going down. Fact: BBQ sauce is the finest condiment known to man.
Prep work. The guy next to me, who ultimately destroyed everyone in the qualifying rounds, kept telling me how incredibly nervous he was. I don't consider myself that collected of a person, but it's just eating french fries quickly, no need for butterflies here.
While it's kind of a rush to hear your name yelled out on a microphone for a great performance, I've gotta admit, excellence in rapid starch consumption may not make my résume.
I totally took the guy on my right to town, which felt pretty good after he called me "weak." I may not be bigger or stronger than he is, but I can pollute my body way quicker. Baboosh.
I am nowhere near this tan in real life, the lighting here is exceptional.
A quick check-in with the ref. He's a pro eater who goes by the nickname, "Coondog." Needless to say, I just stuck with calling him "Dave."
There's a pretty good chance my mom will be horrified when she sees this picture. Sometimes people do crazy things at parties or on vacation, and the pictures somehow get back to loved ones, making for an awkward situation. Me? I just stuff my mouth at bars for sport.
The lone female competitor. Maybe it's just me, but she seems unhappy and full of regrets. And sodium.
Epilogue: This is the plate of Mexican food I ate after taking down the fries. Some might call me an American hero, and to be fair, that sounds about right.
Back in a couple weeks...
Tour Guy Road Notes (permanent link)
The SI Tour Guy (archive of all videos, including from 2006 and the Pac-10)
Windows Media Player 9 (for Mac)
Flip4Mac (to watch SI Video on a Mac)