After seeing how quickly he can eat a gallon of pistachio pudding, and a sheer number of hard boiled eggs he can down in a single sitting, Ronnie Hartman is what his mother lovingly calls a human garbage disposal.
- 11 professional eaters will take each other on during Sunday's chicken wing eating contest
- Ronnie Hartman is a second year competitor
- Last year he tied for last after biting into a bone at first nibble, chipping a tooth
The Louisiana native's journey to the stage at the National Buffalo Wing Festival began at the age of 19. That's when Hartman, aka Mega Byte Ronnie, enlisted in the U.S. Army.
"I did a tour in Afghanistan and I was stationed in South Korea," Hartman said. "I got out of the army, well actually I became a professional eater while I was still in the army."
While serving, a buddy from Buffalo invited Hartman to visit.
"Being from the south I was like I'm not going up there, the heck with that,” he said.
He fell in love and found love in the Queen City, deciding to make his home here. It wasn't just the wings, though, that sold him on the idea of moving north.
"I'm a professional wrestler, I'm a competitive eater and I work at New Era Cap," Hartman said.
The wresting part was a surprise. How does one stay fit while consuming a lot of food?
"I like to think of it as the 70 percent, 30 percent rule, where 70 percent of it is healthy and 30 percent is unhealthy," Hartman explained. "Except, my 30 percent is in like one day."
Like on Sunday when he competes in the wing challenge, he estimates he’ll have an 8,0000-calorie day.
What does it take to get ready? Hartman, like a magician, wouldn't share all of his secrets, but he did offer a few things.
"About 24 hours before a contest I'll stop eating solids," Hartman explained. "Then, the morning of the contest I eat a banana and two little cups of Greek yogurt."
The day after?
"I'm like a sloth," he laughed.
This year's contest is all about redemption.
Hartman tied for last his first year because he bit into a bone his very first bite and chipped his tooth.
"The rest of the time I had to use my hands to strip the meat off the bones," Hartman said.
That wasn't the first time he's run into a problem. One time, he choked on ice cream.
"It was brutal," he said.
If all goes well, Hartman has a method for his wing eating madness.
"You want to take this flat right here and put your thumb here and push through the middle," he demonstrated. "Then for the drum stick, it’s like a saw motion. You put it and you rotate."
Then there's the million dollar question: To dip or not to dip.
"Buffalo, I love you, I am not a big fan of blue cheese. I think it tastes like gasoline. There, I said it," Hartman said.