Appetizers

Steak eating champion offers rare interview to The Bee

AP

Make no mistake. The numbers involved in this steak eating challenge are a little hard to digest.

In just 20 minutes, Molly Schuyler of Plumas Lake chowed down more than 13 pounds of steak, consuming more than 12,000 calories and at least 540 grams of fat. And that’s not including the salad, shrimp cocktail and baked potato served with each Flintstones-sized hunk of meat.

The setting was April 19’s competitive eating competition at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, known as “The 72oz Showdown.”

The steakhouse offers a daily challenge for anyone who dares to give it a go: Eat a 72-ounce steak plus a few sides within an hour, and the meal is free – otherwise you’ll have to fork over $72.

In the competition, Schuyler made mincemeat of that first meal, consuming the 72-ounce steak and sides in a mere four minutes. And then she went for more. She gobbled down another two meals by the 20-minute mark. Footage of this amazing feat quickly made network news and social media feeds, with many people wondering how a 125-pound person could do such damage.

Schuyler, 35, returned to her Northern California home earlier this week, and is still trying to process all the media attention. The footage of her scarfing down all that steak is still fresh in the minds of America, and there’s talks of her getting booked on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” But Schuyler says she’s not craving the limelight, hence the black hoodie she wears while competitive eating.

“I’m severely introverted,” she said. “I don’t look like I’m shy, but I am. I don’t like the camera. It kind of bothers me.”

Schuyler says her main motivation for entering competitive eating contests is to support her family, which includes four kids. While some media outlets have reported that Schuyler works at Applebee’s, she says she hasn’t worked there in many years. The contest winnings help her put food on the table while being able to spend a little more time at home.

“It’s about not having to work another minimum wage job again,” said Schuyler, who won $6,000 in the competition. “I can do the competitions when I want to, and not when I don’t want to, and I’m just gone on the weekends usually.”

Schuyler has been a feared force on the competitive eating circuit since entering her first competition in 2013 at a Jamaican food festival. Among her many accomplishments: She set a record at the 2014 Wing Bowl in Philadelphia by eating 363 wings in 30 minutes, and scored $22,000; she recently woofed down 5 pounds of bacon in just a little over five minutes; she also set the record last year in Amarillo by consuming two of the meals in less than 15 minutes.

“Honestly, your body has to almost be pre-disposed to do this,” Schuyler said. “You can’t just go, ‘Oh, I’m going to eat 15 pounds of food,’ if you’re not inclined.

“I’ve been a huge soda drinker since I was a kid,” she added. “I used to drink two gallons of soda every day. Maybe that had something to do with it.”

So what did Schuyler feel like after gobbling all that steak?

“I had dessert afterward,” she said. “But (after competitive eating), I get really super tired. I want to sleep. You’re a wreck. Then, when you have to get up and catch your flight, you’re like, ‘Ahhh.’”

And there’s more travel on the horizon. On April 23, Schuyler’s off to North Carolina for a burger eating contest. After that, she’s mulling a break.

But Schuyler still has goals to meet. She plans to return to the Big Texan Steak Ranch and eat four 72-ounce steaks next time, a true gut buster of an accomplishment.

“It’s doable,” said Schuyler. “It’s a good time. It’s fun.”

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