Food Industry

Matt Stonie to Attempt World Rib-Eating Record at Homestead-Miami Speedway: 100 Ribs in Five Minutes Goal

When Matt "the Megatoad" Stonie arrives at Homestead-Miami Speedway this Sunday, he'll have one thing in common with the NASCAR drivers who will compete that afternoon: speed.

The racecars can top 200 mph, but Stonie is interested in only five minutes. That's the amount of time the champion eater hopes to down 100 ribs — his goal to set a new world's rib-eating record.

Stonie will attempt this feat this Sunday, November 22, at 11:15 a.m. as the culmination of the Smithfield Whole Hog Challenge, where amateur eaters competed across the country to see who could shovel down the most pork products. After Stonie's battle against the clock, the winners of the regional contests will face one another at 11:30 a.m. in a final bacon-fueled battle to see who will be crowned king or queen. The Whole Hog Challenge is part of the sold-out NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400. 
The number one ranked competitive eater in Major League Eating, Stonie enters this challenge off a high of winning the 2015 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot-dog-eating contest, defeating eight-time champion Joey Chestnut in the annual battle. Stonie's other accomplishments and records include eating 182 strips of bacon in five minutes in Daytona this past February 22, downing ten pounds of spaghetti and red sauce in ten minutes at Martorano's Masters World Pasta Eating Championships in Las Vegas, and chowing 20 pounds, 13 ounces of pumpkin pie in eight minutes at the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Pie Festival.  

The professional eater says he's looking to set the bar high Sunday by swallowing ten full racks of ribs in five minutes, with the time limit more of a concern than the amount of pork he's facing. "It's the first time we're doing a five-minute discipline. It's going to be fun and exciting." Stonie says he expects to eat at least 75 individual ribs but is looking for a higher number. "If I could do triple digits, I'd be happy. 100 ribs actually sounds delicious to me right now. If I had, say, 12 minutes, I could eat 100 ribs, no problem."

Stonie says the key to success is training specific to the competition he's about to face. "There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to competitive eating. A hot dog is different from bacon. The rib competition doesn't involve just eating food — my hand motion is crucial in getting the meat off the bone cleanly." To train, Stonie says he cooks up a bunch of ribs and goes at it.
The eating champ says he has no super secret; he was simply born with a special ability. "I'm a basic, average person, though I think I have a superhuman metabolism. I'm not the biggest guy out there, but I've made this my career."

Stonie found his purpose in life while in college. The biology student entered a lobster-roll-eating contest. "There was a $1,000 prize. I figured if I won, I'd get the money. If not, I'd still get to eat some lobster rolls." Stonie won and never looked back. The biology classes, however, proved beneficial to his newfound talent. "I also took a few nutrition classes, and that helped me to understand what exactly happens to your body when you eat that many calories. It's given me an upper hand in how to stay healthy and in shape. We need to be in shape. These competitions are like a ten-minute sprint. We're sweating and breathing hard. If your cardiovascular system isn't in check, you'll slow down."

With competitive eating now considered a true sport that's garnering international attention from the media, including ESPN, a growing number of people are trying to enter the arena. Stonie has some advice for newbies who just want to enter the state fair pie-eating contest. "Have fun. Honestly. Just go up there and enjoy it and push your limits a little, but know where those limits are. If you think you're going to eat 30 hot dogs on the first try, forget it. There's no way you can."

Even the champion knows his own boundaries, saying no to eating contests that involve superspicy foods. "I stay away from things like jalapeño-eating contests. I have a very low spice tolerance."

With Thanksgiving coming up, Stonie has one last bit of advice for making the most out of Turkey Day. "My favorite tip for people is to stay away from the mashed potatoes. They fill you up really fast, and I'd rather spend my time eating turkey and pumpkin pie." Coming from the guy who holds the record in pumpkin pie eating, that's a tip worth listening to. 
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss