A trash can sits beside Asia Jones as she fights to keep down her portion of the 28-inch, 11-pound pizza in front of her. Jones pulls her yellow-tinted sunglasses over her eyes and tries to focus on her breathing. Locking eyes with her teammate, Curtis Windle, she forces the digested food to stay down.
By Kristen Farrah
(St. Louis) The Newbies
Asia Jones and Curtis Windle are staked out at the corner table in Pointer’s Pizza, face-to-face with their 28-inch pizza. The Pointersaurus pizza challenge has become a staple of Pointer’s Pizza since its start in 2001. The pizzeria saw the rising interest in competitive hot dog eating and decided to create a new way to market it’s business.
The Pointersaurus pizza challenge is an hour-long challenge that gives any team of two a chance to win 500 dollars by eating a 28-inch, 11-pound pizza.
Kyle Perkinson, a Pointer’s employee, estimates that two to three people attempt the challenge every week. Of those, only about one or two people accomplish the challenge each year.
“I’m full after an eight-inch pizza. I couldn’t eat that,” Perkinson said.
Eighteen hours before Randy Santel competes in eating challenges, he stuffs his stomach full of watermelon. The 12-pounds of melon help expand his stomach, but keep his caloric intake to a minimum.
After gorging himself on fruit, Santel drinks only water and coffee before coming face-to-face with his opponent.
March 19, 2010 Santel and his friend Dan Graham entered Pointer’s Pizza. Graham competing for the second time, while Santel sat down to start the first competitive eating challenge of his career.
“He had actually tried before and he lost with his previous partner and he knew that I could eat so he asked me to do it with him and we were able to dominate it,” Santel said.
Hungry and determined, Jones and Windle began the challenge. Nate Tholl, a friend of the couple sits to the side cheering them on.
Jones starts out with a set plan of eating all the cheese and toppings on her side first, then deal with the crust after. She tears through the pizza with two forks at first, then gives up on the plastic utensils and decides to tackle her half with hand-to-hand combat.
Windle takes a different, slower approach than his counterpart. With a slice in each hand, he works his way through each row patiently and seemingly unbothered by his time constraint. Pausing only to make the occasional joke, Windle steadily eats away his time.
Santel searched for tips on competitive eating but couldn’t find anything helpful. His lack of resources inspired him to create his first and second websites. Both websites are dedicated to Santel’s competitions and tips for eating and fitness.
Eating a big meal the night before was the only thing Santel took from his research. Other than that, Santel went in blind, not knowing what to expect.
Graham was tipped off that the bacon would be too salty and they decided beforehand to choose flat toppings. Over 30 minutes later, the 11-pound pizza emerged, smothered with pepperoni and ham.
Halfway into their time, the Pointasaurus has backed Jones into a corner. Taking longer breaks and smaller bites, Jones battles for control over her stomach. She works her way back into the competition but focuses her efforts on cutting up the crust smaller and smaller but still can’t manage to eat anymore.
“I do not recommend [Pointersaurus pizza challenge]. Your stomach will explode and you’ll die a very happy death because of this pizza, but also very painful,” Jones said.
As she pauses again to regain her composure, Windle continues to forge on. Without taking a drink of water or using any napkins for the better part of the competition, his focus is solely on finishing each piece in his hand.
“Can’t stop this train,” Windle said.
Santel and Graham brought a two-person cheer squad made up of their friend and Santel’s cousin. Santel’s cousin filmed the competition that was later uploaded onto YouTube. The competitors were grateful for the extra support.
“When there’s people there that are into it and supporting you you go a little bit faster, you go little bit harder, and you try a little bit more,” Santel said.
Santel and Graham worked their way through the middle and finished at the outer edges. Within the hour, the duo had finished their last slice, winning the challenge and 500 dollar prize money.
Proving he can handle the amount of food, it’s now a matter of whether or not Windle can beat the clock. With two rows left and Jones’ pile of cut-up crust, Windle neither speeds up nor slows his pace.
Perkinson and his co-worker come out from the back to watch the end of the competition. Time is called and Jones pushes away the trash can and stands up from her seat taking deep breaths. Windle patiently finishes the two slices in his hands. A to-go box is filled with the remaining pieces and given to Tholl, as Jones’ can barely look at the leftovers without gagging.