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At Jersey Mike's Last Night, Observer Eaters Were No Match for Mighty Challenger Ed Dravecky

Maybe you noticed Elizabeth's post about the Observer-sponsored eating contest at Jersey Mike's last night. As many of you noted in the comments, that topless photo of Jack Nicholson was pretty hard to miss.

As promised, a few of us here at City of Ate -- this highfalutin' James Beard Award finalist of a blog -- got busy appreciating sandwiches a few pounds at a time. We appreciated the feel of greased-up lettuce shreds slipping through our fists, the smell of cold cuts lingering on our fingertips. We appreciated sodium, trans fats and soft white bread dipped in lemonade.

And for all that respect we gave the 15-inch Jersey Mike's Italian combos last night, none of us could outdo challenger Ed Dravecky's effort at the table. Even before we started, the big guy was obviously going to be tough competition -- but once the 15-minute clock started, he left us all in the dust with quick, methodical bites of his sandwich, on the way to eating just under two-and-a-half 15-inch subs.

Jesse "Hophead" Hughey and I each took the disassembly approach, eating the meat and cheese first, then tackling the bread by dipping it in either lemonade or water. It served us well enough, I think -- I finished a little over one-and-a-half 15-inch subs, and Hughey ate more than that, thanks in no small part to his shoving the whole loaf of bread into his face as time ran out. Dravecky, though, never relented.

Nick Rallo was there to get video of the whole contest -- that's the start of the contest above, and after the jump you can watch the painful conclusion.

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Over the phone today, Dravecky admits he would've had to slow down if the contest had been any longer. "I was hitting the wall pretty hard by the end," he says. "Even if there had been more time, I was gonna have to stop at 2.5."

When he threw his hat in the ring for our contest, Dravecky said he was no stranger to competitive eating glory -- he'd been "crowned 'King of the Wing' by 103.3 ESPN" back in 2004, won a hot dog eating contest at a car dealership a few years later, and a bratwurst eating contest at a Dallas Burn game.

"There are people that do this all the time, and that's not me. It's a fun thing I do every couple of years just 'cause it's occasionally fun." This time around, he said, at least the food was less punishing. "At least it was a nice straight-forward food like an Italian sub, as opposed to things that in quantity will mess you up -- just a good balanced meal," Dravecky says. "In that regard, there were no significant after-effects."

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