Eating sensation Doug Drees called his own shot at the annual five-pound burger-eating contest held at Sylvester’s Burgers in Los Osos on Sunday.
“I am proclaiming victory,” Drees said before demolishing five pounds of beef, bun, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and Thousand Island dressing. “It’s food, and I’m fat.”
Drees, an Atascadero resident, took home the $1,000 grand prize by finishing his monstrosity of a burger in the day’s fastest time: 8 minutes, 32 seconds.
After devouring the final bites of Thousand Island-covered lettuce and pickles, Drees raised his orange-red hands in excitement. Though Drees still needed to hold down the food for 15 minutes to officially claim the crown, the massive eater chose to keep doing what he does best.
“Can I get an order of French fries?” he asked, merely seconds after finishing the mountain of a burger.
A large basket of garlic fries arrived shortly thereafter, and Drees chowed on his snack as the remaining contestants attempted to finish their burgers.
Only one other contestant finished the five-pound burger: all-time record holder, Pat Behr. Finishing in 11 minutes, 20 seconds, Behr came nowhere close to his record time of 5 minutes, 10 seconds.
Behr eclipsed Drees, however, in one category. The all-time champ edged the new champ in managing to accumulate the most Thousand Island in his beard.
Unofficially awarded third place, Tammy Miller was the sentimental favorite. The petite mother of a newborn entered the contest in hopes of using the $1,000 grand prize to buy her baby a crib.
Though Miller faced a dramatic size disadvantage, her presence in the contest posed a considerable challenge to the heavyweights. Miller entered the competition with a qualifying time of 12 minutes, 17 seconds.
Miller did not eat as quickly Sunday, but the little mother with an appetite was still satisfied with her performance.
“I think I did good,” Miller said. “I did my best.”
Despite Miller’s compelling story, another contestant was the crowd favorite. John Rossi, a mechanical engineering senior, boasted the largest and loudest cheering section.
Rossi’s posse, who sensed early on that their eating hero was outmatched, encouraged him to strive for the free Bud Light awarded to the losers.
Rossi complied gratefully and spoke about the challenges of the contest while washing down his giant burger with beer.
“It was rough man,” Rossi said. “I tried to hold it down for Cal Poly. Those guys and that lady are all animals. I guess my technique is inferior.”
Rossi, the only contestant who ate in a conventional manner (burger inside bun, two-handed grip at all times), said, though, that he had fun and would party in celebration of his effort.
To the delight of his fans, Rossi also said he might make a return appearance at next year’s contest.
If Rossi intends on overtaking Drees, he will have his work cut out for him.
Though Drees is getting married on July 15, the Sylvester’s champ sees his victory as merely the beginning of his competitive eating career.
Drees, who has also eaten a two-pound burrito in three minutes, said he plans to compete in next year’s event. But, Drees is setting goals that stretch far beyond Sylvester’s in the world of competitive eating. Drees said he is shooting for an eventual appearance at the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest at Coney Island.
Even though the remains of a contestant’s burger were found on the corner of 11th Street and Santa Ynez Avenue, Drees said the five-pounder was still in his belly.
“I’m holding it down, and I’m ready to go have some dinner with my family,” Drees said.