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Molly Schuyler, a 34-year-old mother of four from Omaha, Nebraska, consumed 26 quarter-pound hamburgers in 10 minutes, narrowly edging Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti of Chicago to win the $1,500 top prize at the sixth annual Z-Burger Independence Burger Eating Championships which took place Thursday afternoon in Washington, D.C.
The No. 1–ranked female competitive eater in the U.S., Schuyler trailed Bertoletti early in the contest but pulled ahead roughly halfway through. She took over the lead at the 12-burger mark, then maintained a pace that kept her slightly ahead of Bertoletti, the contest’s defending champion, who finished with 25.
“I knew I had to have a perfect session today to beat Molly, and I was just a little less than perfect,” says Bertoletti, who has been a runner-up in the Nathans contest and pocketed $850 by finishing second. “Hats off to her … she’s one of the best.”
Former heavyweight boxer David Brunelli of Philadelphia finished third with 20 burgers eaten.
“Dave is typically a fast starter while Patrick and I tend to pick up the pace as the contest develops,” says Schuler, who became the first female champion of the competition. “This is probably one of my best competitions ever. I enjoyed it, the people were incredibly nice and it was one of the best events I’ve even attended.” Frankly, she should know—Schuyler competes in more than a dozen competitive eating events annually winning most of them.
The top three finishers were followed by Ian “The Invader” Hickman and the “Mouth of the South” Dale Boone, who tied for fourth with 15 burgers, while St. Louis native Kyle Hanner finished sixth. The top four finishers earned prize money ranging from $400 to $1,500 while fifth and sixth earned food certificates from the restaurant.
D.C.– based participants included Stephen Alexander of Gaithersburg, Perry Publico of D.C., and American University senior and self-proclaimed Z-Burger’s biggest fan A.J. Custard.
Z-Burger is a fast-casual American restaurant known for its burgers, fries, onion rings, and 75 milkshake flavors. Z-Burger operates four locations in Washington, DC, one location in Arlington, Virginia and one location in Baltimore.