Courtesy of Tony Carter
On a day that started off with much optimism, competitive eater and native Clevelander Scott Bickel failed to complete Hang Over Easy’s ultimate hangover challenge Saturday.
Like many who have dealt with real hangovers, Bickel vomited before it was over.
“Any event I do, I give it all I can. So I mean, yeah, I’m really mad right now, but I know I did my best so I can’t beat myself up over it,” Bickel said.
Owner Nick Pedro created Hang Over Easy’s latest ultimate hangover challenge, a 30-minute contest in which the eater must put down a 7.5-pound omelet consisting of 12 eggs, ham, sausage, bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, sausage gravy and five biscuits, said manager Brian Vura.
No one in the two-year history of the challenge has been able to conquer it. A total of 52 challengers, now 53, have tried and failed, including one brave individual who tried twice and failed both times.
“We had one guy that was as close as Scott and he threw up as well. We do call it the ultimate hangover challenge,” Vura said.
With some of Bickel’s friends and the lunch crowd of about 50 people in attendance, Bickel started pacing before the event and momentarily paused, putting his hands together for a quick prayer.
He jumped right in once the timer started, and submersed his hands in an omelet pile. Almost in unison, people’s eyes started gravitating toward the front of the restaurant, taking out their cell phones to take pictures.
With such fanfare and commotion, even some kitchen staff came from the back of the restaurant and checked on his progress.
The most exciting moment of the challenge came in the 20-minute mark. After eating nearly two thirds of the omelet, Bickel took a 30-second pause, looking as though he was about ready to unleash the entirety of the omelet from his stomach.
The crowd, silent, fearing the worst, didn’t know what to expect.
Suddenly Bickel dove back into the omelet at a furious pace, inciting applause and cheering from the crowd.
Someone in the crowd said, “Somebody grab some Pepto.”
“A lot of times when he slows down, we’re not sure what’s about to happen,” said Bickel’s event photographer, Tony Carter.
With time winding down in the final minute of competition, Bickel tried to find some way to force the last handful of omelet down by dunking it in water. The strategy backfired and he threw up just after attempting to eat the last part of his challenge, ending the competition. This was the first time Bickel has vomited during a competition.
People in attendance winced and let out a sigh of disappointment, but soon it turned into mass applause once again for the effort.
“It’s still quite impressive. He didn’t quite make it, but it’s still way more than anyone else could’ve eaten,” said Benjamin Baptiste, a first-year in electrical engineering.
Orest Danylewycz, a first-year in chemical engineering, attended North Royalton High School with Bickel.
“This is definitely one of his most unique challenges only because he’s never done breakfast food,” Danylewycz said. “I mean half-an-hour and 8 pounds is a lot.”
While some were amazed at what he ate, others thought of what could have been.
“I feel bad for him, actually. If anyone was going to be able to do it, I would’ve liked for it to have been him,” Vura said. “I’m a Cleveland guy myself so I have a soft spot for him.”
Clearly disappointed, Bickel still found something to take away from the event in the applause he inspired.
“It really motivated me. A lot of these people don’t know who I am or just met me for the first time today, so it means a lot,” Bickel said.
Bickel plans to have his next event in a month or so, and as for his immediate plans for the future, it’s pretty simple.
“I go back to training Monday,” Bickel said. “So I’m just going to bounce off and keep going.”