Visalia competitive eater Pablo Martinez training for next event

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two weeks after competing in Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, local competitive eater Pablo Martinez is back at the training table getting ready for his next event.

Friday's lunch for Martinez needed to be just a little bigger than a typical person's meal. The 29-year-old is a month away from his next event: a potsticker-eating competition in Los Angeles. Training involves a lot of strategy and plenty of side-stretching. It's a technique that's gotten him the nickname "The Wiggler."

"We call it stomach Tetris, so you have to accommodate the food into different parts of your stomach because a lot of it is coming down really quickly, and so you don't want it to be just stuck in right there; you kind of want it to move around," said Martinez.

Earlier this month, Martinez represented the Valley at the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest for a third time. He came in 10th place at "the Super Bowl of competitive eating" after scarfing down 22 dogs and buns. But winning isn't what it's all about.

"I think the biggest thing is just the camaraderie that we have amongst each other. Even though we are really competitive at the table, like 95 percent of us are super good friends," said Martinez.

Martinez got his start in competitive eating on his 25th birthday, completing the "Grand Slam Challenge" at Batter Up in just 36 minutes. Back then, he didn't envision that would take him to where he is today.

Over the years, he's been in competitions for burritos, pizzas, wings and even pumpkin pies. And now, he's eaten his way up the Major League Eating rankings -- up eight spots to number 13.

"This year I kind of stepped it up. Yeah, I was actually surprised. I didn't think I'd jumped to 13. I think that's quite a big jump for me," said Martinez.

13 minutes and 13 seconds into this training session, Martinez finished off that 5-pound burrito.

Finishing off plates is just a hobby for Martinez, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist. But as long as he's healthy, he plans on competing until he makes it into the top 10.
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