They came, they saw, they devoured.
Two professional competitive eaters traveled to Nenana on Saturday and accepted the Garbage Pizza Challenge at Riverside Pizza. Their mission: pound down a 40-inch by 26-inch, 10-pound pizza in 45 minutes.
Randy Santel lives in Springfield, Missouri. He is the winner of nearly 850 food challenges in 50 states and 37 countries. He is a professional eater, social media influencer and entrepreneur.
His teammate on this challenge goes by the name Katina Eats Kilos. A former women’s bodybuilding competitor and formerly active duty in the Air Force, she is now a student at Gonzaga University studying kinesiology. She entered eating challenges for fun and discovered she had a knack for winning. She hosts her own YouTube channel.
Santel also hosts his own YouTube channel and has more than one million followers. More than 2,000 of his fans tuned in to the Facebook Live streaming of the Garbage Pizza Challenge in Nenana.
Set up was extensive and there were lots of photographs of the giant pizza before it was ever consumed. The shop was filled with local fans, eager to see the eaters in action.
It was Randy Santel’s 844th eating challenge.
“We hope to become the first team to dominate this 10 pound, 40-inch by 26-inch Garbage Can Pizza Challenge,” he announced. “This pizza has four meat toppings and two healthy vegetables — ham, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage and regular bacon, green peppers and black olives.”
The goal was to finish the pizza in 45 minutes, earn a special T-shirt from Riverside Pizza and get the team photo on the pizzeria’s Wall of Fame.
At the countdown, Santel announced, “Let’s shut up and eat!”
And they dove in. Minutes passed and the crowd cheered them on, “Doing good! Doing good.”
“There’s a lot of crust, but it is tasty,” Santel said, between bites.
He even scooped up stray morsels with his fingers. The crust alone, we learned, weighed four pounds.
Each eater had their own technique. Santel bounced, stretched, stood up, took deep breaths. Katina Eats Kilos seemed to shrink into her seat, her total focus on the pizza.
“I’m gonna use their bouncing technique for Thanksgiving dinner,” commented one watcher on Facebook Live.
At about 14 minutes in, Santel noted, “Now I know why it’s undefeated. This is a lot of crust.”
He downed his bites with slugs of Diet Coke.
“Ya can’t beat homemade crust,” hollered pizzeria co-owner Kat Reeves.
After 37 minutes, 40 seconds, there were still four pieces of pizza left.
“Just go to your happy place,” advised Reeves. “You guys are killing it.”
With two minutes left, they each had part of one piece left in front of them. One final bite apiece and it was over.
With 20 seconds to spare.
“We pushed hard,” Santel said. “I almost got to taste the pizza more than once.”
“It was a real barn burner,” he added.
It was win number 844 for Randy Santel.
And for pizzeria owners Kat and Don Reeves and Jerry and Bridget Sutton, the event was a happy success.
“We got the people of Nenana, for just one hour, to forget about COVID, and about the craziness going on in the world,” Kat Reeves wrote on Facebook. “Everyone was caught up in the moment pulling for these two people.”
The competition was sponsored by Riverside Pizzeria, Coghill’s General Store, JLS Enterprise and Monderosa Bar & Grill.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.