Photo: Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti - Jalapeno Eating Champ
Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti claimed victory for the fourth time at the fifth annual La Costena “Feel the Heat” Jalapeno Eating Championship Challenge. Bertoletti, currently the second world ranked competitive eater in the sanctioned sport of Major League Eating (MLE), ate 275 whole jalapenos in eight minutes. The fifth annual challenge was a highly anticipated rematch between the reigning champ and his fiery arch nemesis: five-foot-tall, 100-pound Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas. Thomas is the only other competitive eater, besides Bertoletti, who has won La Costena’s grueling competition.
Stems were removed from the jalapenos this year for the first time in the history of the eight minute contest. Bertoletti benefitted from this update and ended up shattering his 2010 record of 225 jalapenos to his current 2011 record of 275 jalapenos. “My goal coming in today was just to dominate and beat the record. That’s what I came here to do,” said champion Bertoletti. “It was a great day. The jalapenos were fast. La Costena always makes delicious jalapenos and that makes it easier.”
Thomas placed second by consuming 224 jalapenos, Eric “The Red” Denmark placed third by eating 121 jalapenos, and San Antonio local Alexander Hernandez ranked fourth, having eaten 113 jalapenos. “In this eight minute competition Pat Bertoletti ate 50 whole La Costena jalapenos more this year than last year. 275—it was nothing short of phenomenal,” said George Shea, MLE chairman and emcee. “When Pat was eating, his hands were a blur. You couldn’t tell where the jalapenos ended and the fingers began.”
To continually recognize both the skill and perseverance required to be among the top four competitors in the challenge, La Costena had increased the event’s prize offering for 2011 to a $6,250 cash purse. The champion was awarded $3,000, while the second- through fourth-place finishers were awarded $2,000, $750 and $500, respectively.