Competitive eater

Justin McQuiston doesn’t need to appear in a Hollywood film with Jennifer Lawrence to experience hunger games.

McQuiston, of Dover, recently got another taste of competitive eating in the Smithfield Whole Hog Challenge in Florida, an amateur eating contest judged by NASCAR’s Richard “The King” Petty and Aric Almirola.

He qualified for the bacon-eating competition after winning the Whole Hog Challenge rib-eating contest at Dover International Speedway, his first-ever eating contest.


      ♦ HOME STATE Tennessee

      ♦ HEIGHT AND WEIGHT 5 foot 8 and 150 lbs.

      ♦ OCCUPATION Electrician

      ♦ FAVORITE FOOD Chicken enchiladas

The competition was held the morning of May’s FedEx 400 race with Petty and Almirola as judges. He prevailed in May, then fell short of winning in Miami Nov. 22, but the lean competitive eater and longtime NASCAR fan is still stoked about his experience.

Q What led you to compete in the Smithfield rib-eating contest in Dover last spring?

A I heard “Richard Petty” and “free ribs,” so I signed up for it. Smithfield had a line set up [at the Speedway] and we were in line to get a free ham sandwich; seriously. This guy came through and was like “hey, does anyone want to be in a rib-eating contest, and you’ll get to meet Richard Petty and get his autograph and stuff?” I’m a race fan, so I’m like “Dude, [I’ll get to meet] The King? Let’s do it.” The next morning I came and there was only about six other people. I knew I was going to a rib-eating contest, and I won it.

Q What was your reaction after you won?

A There was a crowd, man, a big crowd. I didn’t really know what to do, so I just jumped up and yelled.

Q What was it like meeting Richard Petty?

A I kept saying “You’re The King, baby.” It’s Richard Petty, what else do you say?

Q Can you explain what happened at your competition in Miami?

A I’ve never experienced trying to shove as much bacon down my throat as I could. It’s bacon: if it’s too crispy you’ll choke trying to eat it, and if it’s too soggy you’ll never swallow it. I couldn’t even swallow my first bite before they said “winner.”

Q What’s your next venture?

A Probably a rib-eating contest. The wife’s been saying for years, “I wish you could eat ribs [in a contest],” because she sees how I eat ribs around the house. And it’s not that I’m trying to hurry up and eat them, but I just eat that fast.

Photo: McQuiston at Dover International Speedway with wife Tammy, Richard Petty (left) and Aric Almirola.