Alex Stewart didn’t wake up Thursday morning expecting to be in a pizza eating contest, but that’s where he found himself after a friend told him they needed a couple more contestants at Oscar’s for the pizzeria’s annual contest.

“I was like, ‘Why not?’” Stewart said.

Stewart would walk away the winner, finishing a large cheese pizza in about 4 minutes and 29 seconds, putting his name among the legends of past competitions.

“Basically, I just ate it like I normally would,” Stewart said.

That’s not an exaggeration, either. While other contestants tried different strategies, like saving the crust for last, soaking it in water or stacking slices, Stewart just ate away like he was at dinner.

Eating the crust as he went was one of the main difference-makers.

“I didn’t want the false sense of security of thinking I was almost done,” Stewart said of not saving the crusts for last.

Timmy Vassele gave a valiant effort, coming in second place.

Vassele went with the folding method. He’s tried stacking slices, eating more than one at a time in previous competitions.

Vassele hadn’t eaten all day.

“It was a ‘show up hungry’ sort of thing,” he said. “I think that works.”

To each their own, though. Stewart said he ate lunch on Thursday.

Six contestants gave it their best shot.

Alex Smith defeats 5 others by eating a whole pizza in 4 minutes 29 seconds.

The six men mulled around outside Oscar’s before the pizzas were brought out. It was relaxed, and a little anticipatory, but when the first large cheese pizza hit the table, there was a collective exhaust of breath that could only be interpreted as, “That’s a lot of pizza.”

Strategy played out before a slice had even been eaten.

Patrick Ray broke his slices apart before starting, and others followed suit.

Kevin Sprinkle took a different, and unique, approach.

He folded his pizza – the entire pizza – and made it one big mass of cheese, sauce and bread.

“That’s a first for me, Kevin,” Kyle Gibson said as he livestreamed the event on Facebook.

The event was created by Gibson, owner of The Coterie, and Matt Rust, owner of Oscar’s, as a way to promote their businesses and the annual Brews on Buckeye beer festival.

“Are they bringing more out?” Sprinkle asked as he ate. “Bring me another one!”

Sprinkle was another “why not?” late addition, who came from the gym.

He said he wanted to just have fun with it.

“I don’t want to die with a bucket list,” Sprinkle said.

Sprinkle lost steam at the end, as being left with a handful of crust proved too difficult to finish.

For his efforts, Stewart took home two VIP tickets to Saturday’s Brews on Buckeye.

Asked the next time he’ll want pizza, Stewart said, “Whenever my wife wants pizza again.”

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at spencer.durham@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.

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