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EATING & DRINKING

The man with the toad in his eyes

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted April 10, 2013
Megatoad at Nathan's on Coney Island.
Watch him go! Megatoad in action at Nathan's. © MLE

He's 20 years old, weighs 120 lbs (54.4 kg) and is currently ranked #5 by Major League Eating (MLE). But why the hell is he called 'Megatoad'?


According to his Twitter feed, Matt 'Megatoad' Stonie is a "kid with a toad obsession".

We simply had to know more.

"If you're talking about the green, slimy creatures, I don't have an obsession with those," he exclusively tells the Rake & Herald via email, "but if you're referring to the awesome character that is present in many Nintendo Games then yes I do."

"I don't know why I gravitated towards Toad and then Megatoad as a nickname, but as a little kid I always loved my small Toad stuffed animal and I guess a part of that still exists in me today."

"'Mega' just makes it sound cool, tough and rings with the M in my name."

Well that answers that but how did the man who last year slugged his way to victory at the World Slugburger Eating Championship in Corinth, Mississippi by eating 30 slugburgers in 10 minutes get into the sport in the first place?

"I'm coming on three years into my competitive eating venture and nearly two of those have been competing within MLE," he says.

"When I was still young (16) I was inspired by [Man v Food] to try out the Burritozilla at Iguana's, a local taqueria, and finished it."

"I found it fun and once I turned 18 I started doing local challenges and contests for small prizes, and once the money and recognition started coming in the rest is history."

If we've understood the excellent Eat Feats database correctly then, with the exception of Nathan's, Megatoad has finished in the top three in every event he's entered since February 2011.

This, we reckon, is pretty darn phenomenal but what does the Megatoad attribute this to?

A natural ability, jaw strength, hand speed, stomach capacity, hard work, mental dexterity, a combination of them all or is it something else?

Toad magic, perhaps?

"Since I was a toddler, I've always been an extremely competitive person and you can verify this with my parents," he says.

"Not necessarily eating, but school, sports, video games, I always wanted to win and if I didn't I was going to change that."

"The key to keeping on top of the others is really pushing your limits in your stomach capacity, throat strength and mental will."

"If I was born to be a competitive eater I will probably never know but what I do know is I work hard and do what the others don't."

Ah, so toad magic, then.


Megatoad at CP Biggest Eater in Singapore
Singapore Sling: Megatoad at CP Biggest Eater. © MLE


RIBS AND DOGS
In addition to winning the aforementioned Slugburger battle in Corinth, Megatoad also gave MLE Number One Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut a right royal run for his money in the Nugget World Rib Eating Championship in Reno/Sparks, Nevada this past August.

But what contests to date most stand out for Megatoad?

"I'll start by saying my heart almost stopped the moment emcee Sam Barclay announced [at the ribs gobathon] that only 0.5 lbs separated the winner from the silver [because] I thought I might have actually beaten Joey finally during the long-drawn out pause that followed, so that moment looking into the sunset will always be a prominent memory for me, for now."

"I could probably list a dozen [other memorable contests], but to pick a few I'd have to start with the CP Biggest Eater Qualifiers."

"The realisation that I was being flown internationally, not once but twice, to eat as a professional was incredible, and the contests themselves, the hospitality of the sponsor, the time spent sightseeing with the others, it was remarkable."

"Another contest that has a strong spot in my memory is the Deep-Fried Asparagus stage, as in 2011 it was my first ever MLE contest and in 2012 [it] was my first ever victory over [MLE Number Two] Pat 'Deep Dish' Bertoletti."

"Otherwise, Nathan's and Day-Lee's gyoza contest are the big stages for me."

"I haven't had overwhelming success or glory in either event, so I'm not as reminiscent as I am aspiring."

And on the subject of Nathan's, in the two years that Megatoad has entered (viz 2011 and 2012), he's upped his gut count from 34 hot dogs and buns (HDBs) to 46 and his placing from 5th to 4th.

So how does he feel about the upcoming 2013 Nathan's hot dog chowdown?

"I'm shooting high as always and I intend to best my previous performance, by how much though I'm not too sure."

"I've attempted a few hot dog practices and I'm far below where I should be, and actually where I was last year at this time."

"I'll be posting some of my progress to YouTube as I go but I need to really step it up."

"Plans are no different, though."

"The pressure for Nathan's is definitely much greater than other contests as it is the Super Bowl of competitive eating."

"Another factor is you actually have to qualify for it."

"Personally, with other contests happening, I take things one at a time and focus on what I need to as it's kind of hard to psych yourself up for an event six months away."

"Qualifying dates are pre-determined and I can't change how good or bad others will do so I put all my focus on myself, where I'm at and making sure I improve."

"One day I'll wake up and it'll be time to drive over to Coney."


ASPARAGUS À GOGO
Before that day, though, there's the annual World Deep-Fried Asparagus Eating Championship in Stockton, California on April 27 to contend with.

At last year's food fight, Megatoad finished well ahead of Deep Dish's bronze-winning 6.7 lbs to come second with 7.9 lbs in 10 minutes, not far off Jaws' winning total of 8.3 lbs and a significant improvement on his third-place tally of 6.75 lbs the previous year, but what about this year's gobathon?

Is Megatoad looking forward to it?

"I'm always looking forward to my next event."

"Otherwise, I wouldn't be doing it," he says.

Oh, yeah.

Daft question.

Please continue...

"Last year, I attributed my leap in success to overabundant sales of asparagus at the supermarket, but this year I'm not so certain."

"It hasn't gone below $2 [£1.31] yet – even on sale."

"Finance aside, at this time last I was in much better eating shape then I am now, with CP and Toojays in the early months, but I still have a month, so we'll have to wait and see."

Actually, he's got less than three weeks on account of us taking so long to write his answers up.

Sorry, Megatoad.

Blame Rake & Herald fashion editor and self-appointed competitive eating pundit Kok Wang.

He's always ballsing things up.

Just ask Michael 'Munchin Mike' Longo.

But enough of Kok and his endless cock-ups, what about the asparagus?

We can't help thinking that this is one particular food type that rather appeals to Megatoad's taste buds.

But a) does it; b) doesn't it make your wee smell funny afterwards; and c) how does it differ to eat against the clock compared to, say, hot dogs or pancakes?

Let's find out by asking him those very questions.

"I actually love asparagus, steamed with a little bit of salt, no butter," Megatoad reveals, confirming our long-held suspicions.

But there's more.

"I've never had the chance to try deep-fried asparagus off stage, but I would bet I would like it," he continues.

"B) It does but no worse then if I ate a moderate amount of it, oddly."

"C) Eating it fast is a nightmare and you really need to shut off your gag reflex."

"The long stalks can often have tough fibres that don't break down on your teeth at first and when you try to swallow it [they] can get caught."

"That exact experience almost ended me at minute 9 of 2011."

"Comparing [asparagus] to hot dogs or pancakes is hard [because] it's like comparing apples to oranges."

"Asparagus has the fibres that don't break down and a slight bitter taste that can get to you; hot dogs are greasy and soggy buns are an acquired taste; and pancakes are just liquid starch on starch on starch."

"I'd prefer apples or oranges."

Now there's a thought.

Imagine an apple eating contest.

I bet you'd need some pretty strong dentures for that.

But what other foods would Megatoad like or not like to eat competitively?

"I would love to compete in a PB&J [peanut butter and jelly (or jam to us Brits) sandwich] contest," he reports.

"Don't ask me why."

OK, we won't.

"I would also like to try out the annual ACME Oyster contest."

"I hate oysters, but in that pseudo way it seems like a fun experience."

"I'll never sign up, without lots of intensive, to a spicy contest."

"Last time I filled my gut with spice I like almost died," Megatoad reveals, adding that he has "never been in so much pain" before.

So clearly Megatoad is not 'Asbestos Mouth' Aaron 'Spicochist' Wakamatsu in disguise.

Or is his?

Answers on a postcard, please.


Megatoad and Deep Dish: The Toad versus the Unicorn.
I smell unicorn blood: Megatoad and Deep Dish take a breather from battle. © MLE


DEEP DISH, JAWS AND LOTS OF VIDS
Anyway, on the subject of fellow gurgitators, there seems to be something of a rivalry between Megatoad and Deep Dish.

Is it because Deep Dish is a self-confessed unicorn enthusiast or is there something else afoot?

Go on, man, spill the beans.

"Deep Dish and I are great friends, but when it comes to competition I do feel there is an intense rivalry," Megatoad says.

"Last year he took a few and I took a few, a couple by the smallest margins, so this year you can bet I'll have the taste for unicorn blood in my mouth next contest."

"Him, he's already got blood in his mouth at every contest."

Hmm, sounds like gum disease.

Maybe Deep Dish should change his toothpaste.

But what about the Chomping Chestnut himself?

Does it ever get frustrating that Jaws has such an extraordinary success rate or is it actually quite motivating, something that megagoads the Megatoad on to keep upping his game?

"While it is frustrating, it also drives me to work harder all the time," he replies.

"There's nothing satisfying or rewarding about being the best at something that's not even difficult."

"When I wasn't a part of MLE, I started to get bored of winning every contest, doing challenges I knew I could win and competing at a level that would easily be considered second rate."

"Yeah, I lose to Joey all the time, as well as [to] some other eaters, but it gives me something to look forward to, aspire to, and that makes the win taste so sweet."

While Megatoad has yet to trump Jaws in any contest that we're aware of, aforementioned Rake & Herald motorgob Kok Wang is nonetheless adamant that within a couple of years or so Megatoad will ultimately eclipse Jaws as the MLE Number One.

In fact, Kok can get quite violent about it, even shooting crime editor Dick Rampant in the arm for daring to disagree with him on the matter.

And given Megatoad's track record and the fact he has age on his side (20 against Jaws' 29), Kok may well have a point.

Not to mention an illegal firearm.

But what does Megatoad think of all this?

Is Kok on the money or is he simply talking out of his arse again like usual?

"I do not believe Kok Wang is talking out of his arse," Megatoad states, explaining that he "can never dispute a Megatoad fan".

"But honestly, I will be the best eater one day."

"The day that that thought slips my mind is the day that I lose any chance to become the best."

"Whether it's realistic or not is one thing, but I can't afford to see any other outcome."


ONE MILLION VIEWS
And when it comes to seeing outcomes, we strongly urge all our cherished and beloved readers to have a butcher's at Megatoad's YouTube channel if they haven't yet done so.

However, given that his channel has already notched up more than a million views, the chances are they most certainly have.

So how did Megatoad become a YouTube megastar?

"It all started out as me publishing my challenges and contests as an independent eater then it slowly evolved into creating personal challenges at home that would double as entertainment," he explains.

"I put my success on YouTube [down] to just keeping fresh with my content, listening to all the fans, keeping up to date with what's popular and, of course, providing impressive stunts."

Fair enough.

Any particular favourites?

"I'm a bit biased on this, but I love the backwards videos I've done and plan to do as those are really the only videos I've gotten to enjoy the food in."

"Plus it's a fairly simple edit."

"Second, I'd pick my 60-second Jell-O video because the amount of Jell-O I ate (like 4.5lbs!) along with my robotic technique turned out great."

"Lastly, I can't disregard my Michael Phelps video."

"Aside from being an extremely hard challenge, the edit job I did on that was great and it's paid off as my most popular video by far."

Well, dear readers, if you haven't so far seen the vids in question, have no fear because we will endevour to embed them at the bottom of this very interview.

However, before we do, we want to know about Megatoad's training regime.

Do the weekly challenges help or hinder?

"Doing these videos really impedes, if not makes impossible, actual training," he reveals.

In fact, Megatoad reports that he hasn't "done much [training] yet this year" and "can see how the lack of [it] has impacted [him]".

This, though, he plans "to change" very soon.

But what about advice?

Does Megatoad have any tips or pointers for anyone thinking of becoming a competitive eater or looking to improve their performance?

"My main advice would be to first figure out if it's really what you want to do," he says.

"Competitive eating isn't pigging out at buffets and enjoying large burgers."

"It's like all competitive sports: pain, misery and reward."

"Outside of that, just know your limits, push your limits and listen to your body."

"Everyone trains differently and everyone improves differently."

"There is no one right way."

As well as being a phenomenal gurgitator, Megatoad is also currently studying to become a Registered Dietician.

So how does that sit with being the MLE Number Five?

Are the two at odds or do they actually augment each other?

"I haven't run into any issue with contests and school so far since most contests are on the weekend."

"None of my teachers have been really into it but some have shown interest and allowed me to incorporate my competitive eating into term papers and presentations."

"It's nice because I don't have to read and cite studies and journals from experts as I am as much an 'expert' as anyone on the topic."

"My teacher from my first class in nutrition actually still follows me and emails me congratulations after contests."

"Looking ahead, in a world that is ruled by fad diets, miracle pills and rockstar docs, I feel being a competitive eater as slim as I am will have it's benefits."

"If I told you you could eat 40 hot dogs twice a week and still fit into skinny jeans, wouldn't you buy into that?"

Hell, yeah.

Forty HDBs a week?

Stuff Atkins and Mayo.

Sign us up to the M-Plan right away!

However, before we all start getting down to shedding a few pounds, we've got some vids to watch.

And first up, in reverse order, it's the Michael Phelps snackathon.

Man, I'm beginning to like this dieting lark already.





All digested?

Good.

Because now it's time for a 60-second Jell-O work-out, or 'jelly' as us Brits would say.

Heck, aren't foreign languages complex?





And on the subject of weird jibber-jabber, what's all that gobbledegook Megatoad's spouting off in the next vid?

Is it Elvish?

Dwarfish?

Or just a load of arcane incantations?

Who knows, but it seems to do the trick.

Derren Brown and David Blaine, eat your hearts out because this is pure toad magic in action.





See also Megatoad's Big Mac massacre, posted 28/3/13.


Big, big thanks to Megatoad for putting up with all our questions and also for the incredibly long time it took for us to a) send him them then b) write them up. Sorry. Blame Kok, the tosspot. Anyway, the above vids were all taken from Megatoad's YouTube channels, which you can check out here and here. Meanwhile, to follow Megatoad on Twitter and FaceBook click this and this, respectively. Many thanks again, Megatoad, and good luck at Stockton, Nathan's and all your future contests. Megatoad rocks! The dude's a dude, dude!


Are you a competitive eater interested in a profile/interview jobbie? If so, get in touch by email. Just be aware that there may be a bit of a lag between contacting us and receiving the questions. Don't take it personally. We're just stretched really thin. And on that subject, are there any would-be writers out there? If so, get in touch. The pay stinks but not as much as Kok's BO.


WARNING! Competitive eating can be dangerous. As well as choking hazards there is also the possibility of poisoning yourself, something that could lead to hospitalisation, permanent health damage and even death. Don't believe us? Read this. Consequently, the Rake & Herald does not recommend you try emulating the above video(s) yourself. Seriously. We are NOT joking. You have been warned.




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