Pro eater tackles local pizza shop’s 28-inch challenge with time to spare

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 5:47 PM CDT
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - A professional eater who has wins in 37 countries and millions of people following his journey online is making stops in Central Texas this week to put his stomach to the test and so far so good.

Over the weekend, Randy Santel of Springfield, Mo., ate a 28-inch pizza at Studebaker’s Pizza in Belton, which also has a restaurant in Gatesville, becoming the first person to accept and beat the challenge at either location of downing a one-topping pizza in less an hour since the challenge was issued in April 2018.

Santel actually finished in front of a large crowd of spectators at 29 minutes and 9 seconds, and added a little extra to the challenge by throwing on additional toppings to his chicken choice by requesting olives and green peppers to make the pictures and video more colorful.

"They said that it was still undefeated after all these years, so then I knew I really wanted to try it," Santel said.

"I'd read their online reviews beforehand which were great but everything was confirmed once I started eating. The pizza was delicious."

Santel said because of the COVID-19 outbreak, he's been homebound for the past three months unable to travel for challenges.

So he decided to make his big return for his 34th birthday in June by making a tour through Central Texas and he's had his eye on the large local pizza for years.

“The Studebaker 28” colossal pizza challenge has been on my radar for a few years now ever since adding the challenge page to my website. Eating a 28 inch pizza all by yourself has a lot of potential for getting a lot of video views so I wanted to try it for my YouTube and Facebook pages.”

The champion eater has 1.1 million followers on Facebook and a million on YouTube.

His extreme eating has taken him around the world eating extreme meals in large amounts from pig blood soup to hard-boiled fertilized duck embryo.

"My biggest challenge was probably Albuquerque where I did a 9 1/2 pound sopapilla at a Mexican restaurant…49:40 was the time on that," he said.

He adds that the challenges come with a lot of training.

"The people you see show up and eat 40 hotdogs don't just show up and do that," he said, referring to the Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest viewed by millions around the world.

For his win in Belton, Santel got the $50 pizza for free. He also got a T-shirt and his picture will hang on the wall recognizing him as the first official winner.

Tuesday he'll be at the Killeen Galaxy Bar and Grill at 6 p.m. where he'll take on a challenge of "a mix of things" on the menu, he says.

On Wednesday, he'll try to eat a larger burger/sandwich at Black Meg 43 in Copperas Cove also at 6 p.m.

Both events are open to the public.

While his tour will then take him out of Central Texas, Santel, plans to continue training and eating for the next few years but when he retires he plans to take his knowledge of food in a different direction, to say the least.

"I'll be a dietician," he laughed.

Santel just finished school, graduating in May 2019 and will start his dietic internship next year.

"By 2022 I'll be retiring with over 1,000 wins in all 50 states and 50 countries and I'll be the number one followed registered dietician in the world. I'll be able to use my platform I've built with all these food challenges to help people with nutrition and weight management."

"Something I know a lot about," he said.

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