For semesters on end, brothers of the Virginia Kappa chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon here at Virginia Tech have jokingly made remarks about participating in an eating contest that many before them have tried but few have conquered. Known as the “Benny’s Challenge”, this eating contest challenges participants to push themselves to pizza-eating limits most could never reach in one sitting, but on November 6th, 2020, some brothers will dare to be different.
While the challenge has changed in recent years, the difficulty has remained. Tasked with consuming a 28-inch pepperoni pizza in 28 minutes, contestants must race against the clock to down each slice in time, should they seek to walk away from the task with bragging rights.
“To eat the whole thing? One has to be crazy,” said Kirt Boyd, a sophomore brother studying CMDA.
The rules of the challenge are simple, but enforced for the sake of keeping things orderly. To participate, brothers will be required to sign waivers provided by Benny Marzano’s (the Blacksburg location of Benny’s Pizza) stating whether they are amateur or professional eaters. The challenge itself begins the moment the contestants touch their respective pizzas, with no stopping of the clock under any circumstances (ie No bathroom breaks).
“I honestly think the task is near impossible for most people, given the challenge’s infamous reputation,” said Jackson Rifkin, a senior brother studying Building Construction. “Not many people have succeeded to my knowledge, but I think we have some brothers that may actually fare pretty well.”
Brothers are allowed to have any kind of beverage with them to complete the challenge, but cannot share slices with one another at any point during the time limit. One aspect of the challenge that may prove to be harder than getting the pizza in is keeping it there, as contestants are disqualified from the competition should they “get sick” on the restaurant’s premises prior to, during and after the challenge.
“I’m excited, I hope at least one brother pukes, and I honestly wouldn’t bet anything on them competing it,” said Khal Clary, a senior brother studying Economics. “Regardless, it’ll be [a] fun event and I’m excited to cheer on the brothers (and eat their leftovers).”
If victorious, each brother who completes the challenge within the time limit will be given a check for $280, a Benny’s Challenge t-shirt, and their picture posted to the restaurant chain’s website, all courtesy of Benny’s Pizza. If unsuccessful, participants will each be charged the traditional $35 cost for the pizza pie.
For those who participate, the current plan is to have all contestants compete at the same time, with each person attacking their pie in a socially distanced manner from one-another. Spectators will be watching from a distance, and for those who cannot attend the occasion in-person, it will be live-streamed on FaceBook and Instagram via the Virginia Kappa official accounts.
If you happen to be in the Blacksburg area on November 6th, make sure to follow the VA Kappa social media accounts for further updates regarding this bound to be amazing brotherhood event, or tune in on the day of to watch the live stream, hosted by Raghise Ghani, a senior brother of the chapter studying Aerospace Engineering.
“It’ll be fun, it’s a great way to bond while staying safe, especially with live-streaming to other brothers who can’t be there due to COVID restrictions,” Ghani said. “I think it’ll go pretty smoothly.”