BOONVILLE – As he was handed his final plate, Pat Bertoletti put his head down, took a deep breath and continued to eat.
With his cheeks ballooned full of boneless Buffalo chicken wings, Bertoletti somehow found more room to fit wings into his mouth, leaving a trail of orange sauce oozing from his mouth and onto his clothes.
When time is called, Bertoletti’s mouth is still packed with chicken. It takes him over a minute to fully swallow all of the food. In just 10 minutes, Bertoletti has consumed about 8,437 calories.
"It's hard to look pretty and eat seven pounds of food," Bertoletti said.
On Saturday at the Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville, Bertoletti won his second straight Major League Eating boneless wing eating championship. He devoured 6.75 pounds of wings to earn this year's title.
Bertoletti, who is from Chicago, is Major League Eating’s second-ranked eater. He holds almost 40 world records, the most in the sport. While he had hoped to break his own world record of 9 pounds Saturday, he fell short. He said the wings this year were not as warm as they were last year.
"They were tougher to eat, but equally as delicious," Bertoletti said.
Jamie McDonald finished second in the contest by eating 5 pounds. McDonald, an amateur, was competing in only his second big contest. Although he was pleased with this performance, he said he just needs to be a quicker eater.
"I can fit as much food in my mouth as he (Bertoletti) can," McDonald said. "He’s just so darn fast.”
McDonald, a Granby, Conn., native, works as a body builder and hopes to sign with Major League Eating soon. He said he got his start when his family encouraged him to give competitive eating a try.
"I knew I could eat a lot," McDonald said. "I didn’t know how fast I could eat, so I just did it."
MLE's 12th-ranked eater Aaron "A-Train" Osthoff placed third, eating 4.70 pounds, and Mark Williams ate 3.85 pounds to finish fourth.
A total of 90 pounds of wings were prepared for the 10 competitive eaters. The wings, which were covered in a mild sauce, were served in 2-pound plates.
"We love to offer new and different entertainment options for our guests," said Senior Director of Marketing Heather Rapp.
In total, $3,000 was awarded to the top four finishers with the champion, Bertoletti, winning $1,500.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.