There was a surprise ending following a photo finish in the first Big-T Eating Contest at Olive Hill’s The Drive-In Tuesday evening.
Restaurant owner Todd Antrobus was all smiles as he welcomed dozens of spectators, many of whom enjoyed their own burgers, fries, drinks and ice cream cones, for the highly-publicized competition. With a worldwide audience viewing via social media, he introduced each of the evening’s eaters – Chad Smith, Carrington Jarvis, Harley Collins and the evening’s only female contestant, Ivy Spence.
“I say watch the skinny guy,” Dale Jarvis said as he stood with others in a small patch of shade and sized up the competition early and chose Harley Collins as a likely contender for the win.
With a 35-minute limit in place, each of the four attacked their waiting Big T sandwiches (each with three two-ounce beef patties divided by cheese slices and topped with Drive-In sauce) with gusto. Despite being a crowd favorite, Harley Collins was the first to wave the white napkin and admit defeat. Contended, however, he enjoyed an ice cream cone to top off his meal.
Carrington was the next to phase out, with a near loss of stomach several minutes and two Big T sandwiches in. To his credit, he did not officially declare surrender and managed to continue to take small bites until the last minute.
With only Chad Smith and Ivy Spence remaining on the intake, most in the audience seemed to believe the big man would surely defeat the smaller female, who seemed ready to give up at several points in the contest.
Both made strong rallies as the final seconds ticked down, with each working their way into their fourth Big T at the 35-minute mark. It seemed Smith had won, but judges quickly said they would need an accurate scale to determine the truth.
And, the contestants had to hold their stomachs down for three minutes to make the win official. It was that part which worked against Smith, who almost without warning had to turn and find a waiting receptacle for the contents of his stomach, leaving Spence as the figurative “last man standing” on stage.
Judges also quickly determined Spence had legitimately consumed more Big T sandwich than Smith. His plate had 6.4 ounces of food remaining to be eaten, while hers had only 6 ounces left behind.
For the win, Spence was presented with a T-shirt, gift certificates, $50 and a championship style belt. Antrobus said he hopes the first eating contest will serve as a springboard for a Cheeseburger Festival in Olive Hill.
The Drive-In continues to have another eating competition ongoing, with participants challenging each other to determine who can eat the most patties on a Big T sandwich. The record now stands at 21 patties, Antrobus notes.