Going down 'delicious'

by Lawrence Aylward
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Richard Petty, Matt Stonie and Aric Almirola
Richard Petty (left) and Aric Almirola (right) of the Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 race team pose with Matt Stonie after he consumed 182 pieces of bacon in five minutes. Smithfield sponsors the race team and the event at Daytona International Speedway.

Matt “Megatoad” Stonie loves his bacon. So it’s no surprise the No. 1-ranked competitive eater in Major League Eating says it was a piece of cake to eat 182 slices of bacon in five minutes.

“Bacon is easy to eat,” Stonie says with a laugh. “It goes down delicious, and you don’t get tired of it. Everybody loves bacon.”

Stonie accomplished the feat, a world record, last February at the Smithfield Pig Out Chase at the Daytona International Speedway. The 23-year-old rose to fame last July when he defeated eight-time champion Joey Chestnut to claim the 2015 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating title. Stonie ate 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

Stonie is not a big guy — standing 5-foot-8 and weighing 130 lbs. — but he can put away the food. The California native says he has always been known as a big eater.

“I was always the kid who would eat the first piece of pizza the fastest at a birthday party so I could get a second piece before anybody else,” he says.

But Stonie didn’t grow up wanting to be a competitive eater, like some kids dream to be NFL football players. He entered his first contest and gained his first win in 2010 at a lobster roll eating contest in Hampton Beach, NH. Stonie won $1,000 and was hooked.

“I’ve always been a competitive person, and I took it to heart,” he says.

What’s the secret to eating 182 slices of bacon in five minutes? 

Matt "Megatoad" Stonie
Matt "Megatoad" Stonie

“There’s really no secret. It’s about choosing a contest with good food,” he explains.

If the grub is good, it goes down easy, adds Stonie, who earned the nickname “Megatoad” from the character Toad in the Super Mario Bros. video game.

Stonie considers competitive eating a legitimate sport and trains for eating competitions by working out in a gym to build up his endurance.

“When I go up there, and I’m eating bacon and hot dogs, I’m working hard and my adrenaline is pumping,” Stonie says. “I’m tired when I’m done, and I’m sweating. It’s a workout. It’s a huge benefit to be in good shape because then you don’t get tired so fast.”

Stonie has made competitive eating his full-time job. He participates in 12 to 15 events annually. He won $10,000 for winning the Nathan’s contest and is earning a good buck on the food-eating circuit.

“I get to travel the country and the world, and I get paid to eat food. You can’t complain,” Stonie says.

It’s a dream job, especially if you love bacon like Stonie does.

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