Scott Bickel looks remarkably put-together for a man who spent the previous evening attempting to devour all eight entrees and five appetizers on the Applebee's 2 for $20 menu. Eighteen hours after taking on the 12-pound challenge, Bickel drinks glass after glass of water while recounting the day this summer that has defined every one since.
"We turned on ESPN, and for the first time ever, I saw Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest," he recalls. "It triggered me to want to do this. The training began that day."
Bickel wants to be the world's best competitive eater. That may sound like a lofty goal until you consider the trail of empty plates he has left in his wake since July 4. His finest moment was finishing the 5-pound Melt Challenge in 18 minutes and 34 seconds — a creation that even Man v. Food's Adam Richman struggled to finish.
This kind of eating is a physical undertaking, and Bickel trains excessively for it: He runs, swims, lifts weights, chugs gallons of water and researches new ways to push his body to extremes.
"I'm actually talking to a scientist in Florida right now," Bickel says. "I'm learning a way to trick my brain into eating more food. ... I even eat my breakfast upside down to make the food travel upward through the esophagus. ... Just like a runner would put weights on his ankles to train, I'm doing the same thing."