Matt Stone might not be a household name, but in the world of competitive eating he is a pretty big deal. The diminutive young man might not look the part, but he has conquered monster meals to become a champion.
10. Eating As A Career Choice
Matt Stonie was a normal student at Mission College in Santa Clara, California when he first got a taste of the high stakes world of competitive eating and eating challenges. He hadn’t intended to embark on a professional eating career, he only started doing this to get some free food. Then in 2010 when he was living in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire Stonie entered a Lobster roll eating contest. He defeated the local favorite by only half of a Lobster roll, but it marked the beginning of a new path for the young man. He collected the winning $1,000 prize and started to believe he had hit upon something he could be good at. This unexpected win stimulated his competitive juices to start flowing and he developed a plan to make himself into a competitive eater. The following year he entered the Stockton Deep Fried Asparagus Eating Championship. At the time Matt entered this contest he was the youngest member of the competitive eating organization called Major League Eating. This was the event that set him on a trajectory to eventually make a name for himself with feats such as eating 203 cookies in 27 minutes and 113 pancakes in 8 minutes.
9. A Moment On The Lips
You might have wondered how some of these competitive eaters who consume huge amounts of food during speed-eating contests maintain a normal weight. Matt Stonie is a small-boned guy and weighs in only at around a modest 120-130 pounds. He is quick to admit that he doesn’t have an especially fast metabolism that would make it easier for him to routinely consume thousands of extra calories with fewer consequences. Matt is pretty disciplined about a workout routine that includes up to five workouts a week consisting of either some kind of cardio routine or weight training.He has pointed out that, “I’ve made this my full-time job, and I spend a lot of time taking care of myself. It’s hard, it’s not like we have superhuman metabolisms.” Although it may seem strange for a person who regularly gorges himself, Stonie insists he works hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes a strict diet when he’s not getting ready for a competition. Now, this may seem like he’s just blowing smoke, giving the “correct” answer to a media type, but his life choices back up his claims. He studied nutrition at Mission College so he has an array of knowledge when it comes to how to keep oneself healthy even as he subjects his body to the rigors of competitive eating, pretty impressive. There’s no established career path to become a competitive eater, but Stonie seems to have hit upon a successful formula that has worked quite well for him.
Matt Stonie has made a name for himself as a champion competitive eater, but he has also had a considerable presence on the Internet with his web site, www.mattstonie.com. This site is a good bit of self-promotion for the young competitor as it allows him to high light his past accomplishments and to invite fans to challenge him to new eating adventures. If Stonie accepts an eating challenge suggested by a fan he will film it and post it on YouTube. These challenges have created a library of videos people can watch and perhaps be inspired to take on their own eating challenge. He has become something of a big deal on YouTube with his channel drawing in almost 11 million subscribers. One of the more popular videos on his channel was inspired by a video game character named ‘Big Smoke’ from the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas who places a huge order at a drive-thru. Stonie recreates the order the best he can and explains that the food totals more than 9,000 calories. he completed the challenge in just under 35 minutes. Because of his online presence, he is able to connect with fans who offer suggestions for eating challenges they would like to see him perform live. With the help of Mattstonie.com Matt Stonie has been able to have a career as a professional eater; this seems like a pretty cool job to have if you can stomach it.
7. Training To Eat
Matt Stonie, like other competitive eaters, must prepare his body to cope with the rigors of an eating contest. If you try to compete without “getting in shape” you likely won’t perform well and you’re body will let you know you weren’t prepared with bouts of nausea, cramps and vomiting. What techniques and training do you need to master in order to become a world class “gurgitator?” The most basic adjustment that has to be made is to lessen the saiety reflex. This is a warning sign triggered by the brain when it senses the stomach has been filled with about a liter of food. If any more food is added vomiting is likely to happen. Competitive eaters expand their stomachs by drinking larger amounts of water in a shorter amount of time. They need to get a lot of in their stomachs, but they also need to keep it down. They will practice suppressing their gag reflex by sticking their finger down their throats. Jaw strength is another factor these athletes work on. Competitive eaters will chew as many as 20 pieces of gum at once to exercise the muscles of the jaw and mouth. Hot weather tends to suppress your appetite, but competitive eaters must overcome this. It is common to see them dousing themselves with ice water to keep cool and keep their appetites strong as a competition progresses.
6. Welcome To The Big Leagues
Major League Eating is the organization that oversees professional eating contests. The MLE sanctions about 70 competitive eating events every year including ones sponsored by companies like Pepto Bismol, Roy Rogers and Hooters. Of course the MLE also has a hand in the famous events like Nathan’s Famous July 4th hot dog eating contest that takes place at Coney Island, New York. The MLE bills itself as the go to organization when it comes to legitimacy in eating challenges. They exist so as there is some consistency and integrity in the process of these competitions. It also has a hand in promoting many of the contests and providing the competitive eaters with a platform from which they can get maximum exposure. Matt Stone doesn’t seem to have any trouble in this department since he has a website and a YouTube channel that boasts about 13,000 subscribers. There is no doubt that the proliferation of social media platforms like instagram and YouTube have been a boon for the MLE and its members. Hundreds of videos showing off the exploits of competitive eaters are at everyones’ fingertips so competitors like Stonie have been able to turn them into income. It might seem like good work if you can get it, but would you really want to stuff your face with untold amounts sugars, fats and who knows what else – even if you were getting paid for it?
5. Calorie Counts
The recommended daily caloric intake for the average adult male is 2,000-3,000 a day. It is a little less for women. These are the numbers Matt Stonie sticks to when he isn’t training for a competition. His normal diet includes a lot of protein shakes, fruits, vegetables and nuts. But when he is in training, hold on to your fork, because the calorie counts can get a little out of hand. It is not unusual for Stonie to east 10,000 – even 20,000 calories in a day to get ready for a specific challenge. How do you eat this many calories in a day? You have to choose your foods carefully. Stonie suggests high caloric foods like hot dogs. The average hot dog contains a little over 200 calories. To reach 10,000 calories you would have to eat 50 hot dogs or 100 hot dogs to get to 20,000 calories. If you love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream you’ll love this challenge. Stonie decided he was going to eat 12 pints of ice cream or 13,400 calories. This amount of ice cream amounted to about 1/10th of Stonie’s bodyweight of 120-130 pounds. He completed this challenge in 36 minutes. Believe it or not the ice cream challenge totaled about 1,000 calories more than the calories he had to eat for his championship win at the 2015 Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest. It must feel pretty strange to consume 5 or 8 times your normal amount of daily calories in matter of minutes, and most of us will never find out.
4. Nathan’s Big Boy
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut had won Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest eight times and many people assumed he would win it a ninth time. But on July 4, 2015 Matt “Megatoad” pulled off one of the more unlikely victories in the annuls of competitive eating. Matt Stonie consumed a stomach churning 62 hot dogs in ten minutes to Joey’s also impressive 60 hot dogs. The Coney Island, New York event was televised live on ESPN so the curious can relive the event for themselves. Stonie was 23 at the time of his victory; he had placed second the year before so he knew exactly what he was getting into when he took on Chestnut for another shot at the title. As many as 35,000 people were present at Coney Island to witness this epic gastric event and they were not disappointed. Joey and Matt battled neck and neck and left the other two competitors far behind. ESPN covered the event and published a story chronicling Stonie’s achievement: “According to Nathan’s website, and based on the calorie count of one hot dog, Stonie consumed 17,360 calories, 1,116 grams of fat, and 48,360 milligrams of sodium.” For his efforts Stonie was awarded the $10,000 prize and perhaps more importantly – the mustard yellow winner’s championship belt. By the end of the event the contestants looked pretty wasted so they were lucky they didn’t have endure a five hot dog eat-off.
3. The Science Of Gorging
Like contestants in other competitive endeavors professional eaters leave little to chance. They want every advantage they can get and many of them have realized that the more they know about how the body works, specifically how the body deals with excessive amounts of food, the better their chances of winning. One fact they have learned is that the body at certain point will just give up trying to digest and assimilate huge amounts of food. So even though you’ve scarfed down two dozen donuts and several thousand calories your body will eliminate a good percentage of the food as waste without absorbing the all the calories. A competitive eater like Matt Stonie, like the rest of us has a stomach that usually accommodate about one liter of food. Stonie and his colleagues’ stomachs must be able accommodate about four liters of food. Proper training can adapt adapt the stomach to this, but is it healthy for the individual and are there long term health concerns? A study published in the Journal of Roentgenology shed some light on these questions:
“We speculate that professional speed eaters eventually may develop morbid obesity, profound gastroparesis, intractable nausea and vomiting, and even the need for a gastrectomy. Despite its growing popularity, competitive speed eating is a potentially self-destructive form of behavior.”
Despite the risks competitive eating seems here to stay and the competitors will seek every advantage they can get to win. It will be interesting to see what the effects of this sport and lifestyle will be on competitors as they age. Will they develop conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes? Our bodies are resilient, but they can only take so much abuse.
2. Big Mac Attack
A lot of people love the McDonald’s Big Mac and as the classic jingle said: two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. The Big Mac sandwich features a combination of flavors that is hard to beat in the world of fast food burgers. This is why it has been a favorite with McDonald’s customers since its national debut in 1968. How much does Matt Stonie love Big Macs? This is unclear because he is on record saying that he tries not to enjoy the contest food too much because it would just slow him down. However, he likes them enough that he was able to swallow 25 of the famous double decker burgers in an astonishing 22 minutes. There are probably a lot of people who really like Big Macs who haven’t had more than 22 of them in their entire life. In case you’re wondering what kind of calorie count you’d be looking at if you decided to try this at home – the tally is a whopping 13, 250. This is more than 5 times your normal caloric intake. He also also has the record for swallowing five Big Macs in just 60 seconds, which might be an even more impressive feat than the 25 Big Macs. Some people prefer flame broiled Whoppers from Burger King, but no word yet on Matt accepting a 25 Whopper challenge.
1. The World Record Is Not Enough
Like most competitive endeavors, the world of professional eating judges and ranks its members by who holds what records. Major League Eating (MLE) is proud of the records it’s members and has an interest in promoting them and ensuring their integrity. Matt Stonie has been a professional competitive eater since 2011. During his run he has racked up an impressive list of records. He will likely always be most known for the impressive victory at the 2015 Nathan’s Famous July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest. At this renound event he ate 62 of the grilled sausages to defeat the favorite and reigning champion, Joey Chestnut. The following is just a partial list of the competitive eating records Stonie holds:
1 McDonald’s Happy Meal in 15 seconds – 2014
120 Twinkies in six minutes – 2014
71 pork ribs in five minutes – 2015
41 cheeseburgers in eight minutes – 2016
85 moon pies in eight minutes – 2016
113 pancakes in eight minutes – 2016
87 Aebleskivers (small danish pastries like donut holes) in eight minutes – 2017
All of these records are impressive, but some more than others. Even though a McDonald’s Happy Meal is not a lot of food it’s still quite an accomplishment to consume a small drink, hamburger and fries in such a short amount of time, no he doesn’t have to eat the toy. The video of this challenge is interesting because you can watch Stonie practice with several Happy Meals before he is able to officially get one down in the record time of 15 seconds. He is still active, and his popularity is at an all-time so fans can expect him to post some new records before too long. Until then, stay hungry my friends!