Asia Jones and Curtis Windle are staked out at a 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 Pointersaurus Pizza Challenge is an hour-long challenge that gives any team of two a chance to win $500 by eating a 28-inch, 11-pound pizza.
Kyle Perkinson, a Pointer’s employee, estimates two to three people attempt the challenge every week. Of those, only one or two people accomplish the challenge each year.
“I’m full after an eight-inch pizza,” Perkinson said. “I couldn’t eat that.”
Eighteen hours before Randy Santel competes in eating challenges, he stuffs his stomach full of watermelon. The 12-pounds of melon expand his stomach, but keep his caloric intake to a minimum.
After gorging himself on fruit, Santel drinks only water and coffee before a competition.
On Mar. 19, 2010, Santel and his friend Dan Graham entered Pointer’s Pizza. Graham was 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,” Santel said. “He knew that I could eat, so he asked me to do it with him. We were able to dominate it.”
Hungry and determined, Jones and Windle began the challenge. Nate Tholl, a friend of the couple, sat to the side cheering them on.
Jones began with a set plan of eating all the cheese and toppings, then dealt with the crust after. She tore through the pizza with two forks, then decided to tackle her half with hand-to-hand combat.
Windle took a slower approach. With a slice in each hand, he worked his way through each row, seemingly unbothered by his time constraint. Pausing only to make the occasional joke, Windle steadily ate away his time.
Eating a big meal the night before was the only thing Santel took from his intensive research. Other than that, Santel went in blind, not knowing what to expect.
They decided beforehand to choose flat toppings and soon after, the pizza emerged smothered with pepperoni and ham.
Halfway into their time, the Pointersaurus backed Jones into a corner. Taking longer breaks and smaller bites, Jones battled for control over her stomach. She fought back into the competition, but focused her efforts on cutting the crust. No matter how small it got, Jones could not manage to eat any more.
“I do not recommend [Pointersaurus Pizza Challenge]”, Jones said. “Your stomach will explode and you’ll die a very happy death because of this pizza, but also very painful.”
As she paused again to regain her composure, Windle forged on. Without taking a drink of water for the better part of the competition, Windle focused solely on finishing each piece in his hand.
“Can’t stop this train,” Windle said.
Santel and Graham brought a cheer squad made up of their friend and Santel’s cousin. 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 a 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 prize.
Proving he could handle the amount of food, it was now a matter of whether Windle could beat the clock. With two rows left and Jones’ pile of cut-up crust, Windle neither sped up nor slowed down his pace.
Time was called and Jones pushed away the trash can, standing up from her seat and taking deep breaths. Windle patiently finished the two slices in his hands. A to-go box was filled with the remaining pieces and given to Tholl, as Jones could barely look at the leftovers without gagging.
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