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Fat steak no match for skinny woman in eating challenge

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 10:32 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Molly Schulyer has only been a competitive eater for a year and a half
  • On Monday she ate two meals featuring 72-ounce steaks in less than 10 minutes each
  • She says she takes a bite then swallows the meat without chewing
  • She won't be in the July 4 hot dog eating contest because she is a member of another organization

(CNN) -- There are days Molly Schuyler eats little or nothing at all.

Most days she eats leftovers off the plates of her four children and a salad or two.

And then there are days when she eats a 72-ounce steak, shrimp cocktail, salad, a baked potato and a roll in less than five minutes. And then for "dessert," she does it once more, in nine minutes.

The self-described stay-at-home mom/eater said Tuesday she takes on food challenges and competitions for the fun of it -- and for the free grub.

She's not in it for the money or fame, so if it ever stops being fun, she'll push away from the table.

Competitive eating fans hope that's not any time soon because Schuyler is fast becoming a star in the world of quick bites and bottomless stomachs.

Emphasis on the word "fast."

Schuyler has eaten:

•nine pounds of fried mushrooms in eight minutes,

•nearly 13 slices of pizza in 10 minutes (6.9 pounds),

•eight beef patties in 1 minute, 46 seconds,

•and forty 2.9-ounce bratwursts in eight minutes.

And if you haven't gotten a sore stomach by now, there's also the 363 chicken wings in 30 minutes to win the Wing Bowl (and $22,000 in prize money).

Pretty impressive for someone who weighs 120 pounds.

'It was delicious'

The legend of Molly Schuyler grew again this week when she went to Amarillo, Texas, and demolished Joey Chestnut's record time for the 72-ounce steak challenge at The Big Texan Steak Ranch.

After methodically setting up the plates as she wanted them, Schuyler tore into the medium rare steak, grabbing the slab with her two hands and tearing into the beef.

"We've never seen anything like it. It was gone, it was just gone," Big Texan owner Bobby Lee said. "She eats like a high-powered lawnmower."

In an interview with the Amarillo newspaper he went further: "If there's a zombie apocalypse, I want to stay away from this girl."

Schuyler said she locks her teeth into the steak, bites once and swallows. There were a couple close calls -- there are always a couple of close calls -- but nothing near choking.

And though it's hard to believe, she actually enjoyed the steak.

"It was delicious," she said.

Really? You tasted it?

"It was amazing."

She even talked about coming back later to try to eat three steak meals in one sitting, something that's never been done.

Lee said 140,000 people have taken the challenge since 1960, and only 10,000 have finished it in under one hour. And no one near as fast as Schuyler. The only thing that has eaten it faster was a lioness, and she just ate the steak.

Schuyler's time for the first meal eclipsed the clocking Chestnut, a seven-time champion of the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating contest, posted in 2008.

Some people anxiously awaited his reaction, to see if he would congratulate Schuyler or talk of reclaiming his record.

Such talk irritates Schulyler, who said she considers Chestnut a friend.

"He's a frickin phenomenal eater," she said. "If he beats me, that's great."

The two are in different eating organizations, meaning you won't see Schuyler at the hot dog contest. In 2013, Schuyler signed with All Pro Eating, which sanctions about 50 events around the world.

All Pro Eating Chairman Todd Greenwald said his competitors eat under "picnic style rules," where there is no dunking or tearing food apart is allowed. This differs from Major League Eating rules, he said. And he said his eaters don't have to sign contracts.

It started with a burger challenge

Schuyler, 34, said she started challenging her stomach only about a year and half ago.

It started with a friend telling her there was no way she could eat a burger called the "Stellanator" at a restaurant in her hometown of Bellevue, Nebraska, near Omaha.

The burger has six patties, six eggs, 12 pieces of bacon, six pieces of cheese and condiments that include jalapenos and peanut butter.

"I'm always about proving someone wrong," she said. And she did. In just 15 minutes.

And before you could burp, people started calling and inviting her to try their challenges.

And before she knew it, she was at Wing Bowl in Philadelphia, the new kid among the competitors, riding a float through the cacophony of 20,000 fans.

"There are so many people cheering for you and for other people, you have to be in the middle of it to appreciate it," she said.

But it didn't faze her. She pounded down 186 wings in the opening 14-minute round, 148 in the second round, and in the two-minute final, ate 29 for a total of 363, an event record.

At home

When asked how she burns off all those calories, Schuyler said she is a mother of four children, ages 10, 7, 6 and 5, so taking care of them keeps her moving.

Her children are not big eaters, so she finishes off their plates -- a lot of leftover vegetables, she said. She also eats a lot of salads.

"I might eat more plates of food, but they're salads (with no dressing) so it's not a lot of calories," she said. "We (competitive eaters) don't eat like crazy all the time. That would just be impossible."

Schuyler also loves buffets and told the story of getting kicked out of a Chinese restaurant.

"I ate nine plates of food," she said. "They threw the check at me. I didn't leave a tip."

But there are some days, when she's running the little ones to Cub Scouts and dance recitals that she might even -- gasp -- skip meals or not eat.

Not everyone is supportive

Schuyler said she still enjoys the challenge of eating fast and furious, but the detractors abound.

"Every comment is rude," she said. "People chastise and make us look like we are the worst people in the world if we eat a lot of food."

If they take the joy out of it, she'll just quit, Schuyler said.

Her children are most important, she said, adding that she no longer takes them to her food events and won't encourage them to follow in her fork steps.

She turns down events because of her children's activities and the fact that her husband's job in the Air Force takes him away from home often.

"I just missed a contest I really wanted to go to because of a dance recital," she said. "I will not ever give up my kids' stuff to go do a contest."

Schuyler only does about one or two contests a month. She won't say where the next one is.

"I like to keep off the radar," she said. "I like to have a private life."

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