RibMania VI at Ribfest Chicago XVII

Location: Chicago, IL
Date: 06-12-2015
Winner: Michelle Lesco, with 3.2 lb of ribs 8 min


All men are created equal, inked Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. This tenet, above all others upon which our republic was built and thrives, shines brightest in American hearts. It's our thing. It's what we believe. It's how we roll.

Except we all know it's not true. Joey Chestnut is not equal to you when it comes to eating. Matthew Stonie is not equal to other slim-hipped twenty somethings. Sonya Thomas can do things that other ladies in Alexandria, VA, simply can not. Some are born with talents that call the notion of equality a liar. For many of us, it just ain't fair. They've got it. We don't. And so we let our shoulders slump as we take the load of life heavily and slowly. Penthouses and pavements. Gulfstreams and the bus. The elite and the rest. Them and you.

So chalk this one up for the people. At RibMania VI at Ribfest Chicago XVII, Michelle Lesco claimed her first Championship title. It was her first MLE win in a non-qualifier situation. Now, Lesco—world #8—has talent for days, but she must have thought after years on the circuit that maybe it would never happen. That the kings and queens of this grand sport would always thwart her dreams. When she beat one of the greats someone else beat her, too. When she was the favorite, one of the greats would arrive to take the gold. Never first. Second. Third. Personal bests. Career milestones. Some cash. But never, ever first. Never her name called last. No oversized novelty checks. Smaller trophies. Small comfort, too.

Erase those memories, Ms Lesco. Burn them all. Damn them to the trash bin of history. This was a victory for human tenacity over God-given talent. Lesco grinded for this win. Years of hope distilled into each bite. Years of pain in each swallow. Years of quiet disappointment in each and every tear at the flesh. And then it happened: Time elapsed, trays were weighed, and her name was called last.

Leaving the stage, she turned to the emcee on duty and said, simply, "I am a Champion."

Her efforts should inspire each and every one of us to dust ourselves off daily and approach the morning sun with hunger and belief. Treat today like it is the day and today you may well soar higher than those who float above you as if on air.

RESULTS: $4,000! 1st - Michelle Lesco, 3.2lb in 8 mins, $2000 2nd - Miki Sudo, 2.9lb, $800 3rd - Juan Rodriguez, 2.26lb, $600 4th - Erik Denmark, 1.9lb, $300 5th - Nate Biller 1.6lb, $200 6th - Crazy Legs Conti, 1.5lb, $100 7th - Paul Zwiercan, 1.2lb 8th - Val Bromann - 1lb

This contest took place at 6pm Central, on FRIDAY June 12, 2015 at the Chicago Reader Stage at 4185 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL, as part of the 17th Annual Ribfest Chicago Festival.

About Ribfest Chicago! As featured on Food Network’s “Eating America, with Anthony Anderson,” Ribfest Chicago returns with more smokin' music and barbecue as we cook up some new twists for Chicago's favorite festival, which will take place on Friday, June 12, from 5 pm to 10 pm; Saturday, June 13, from Noon to 10 pm; and on Sunday, June 14, from Noon to 10 pm.

This nationally recognized music festival features 20 bands—a hot blend of Indie, pop, roots and alt country to create one of the most unique lineups in the city. The 6th Annual RibMania features top-ranked professional Major League Eaters competing in Chicago’s premier eating contest on Friday night, and families can spend the weekend in Kids Square enjoying entertainment, inflatables, games and more.

Ribfest Chicago has contributed more than $250,000 to Northcenter schools and nonprofits in addition to funding chamber projects and annual programming.

Please note: This contest is restricted to participants aged 18 and over.

CLICK HERE for more information on Ribfest Chicago.

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*All applicants must be 18 years of age or older and fully acknowledge and understand the inherent dangers and risks associated with participating in an eating contest. The applicant further acknowledges and understands that the MLE/IFOCE coordinates with event sponsor(s) to select and approve eligible participants, and that the MLE/IFOCE shall decide, at its sole discretion, whether an applicant is eligible to participate in any eating event, and/or related activities. The MLE/IFOCE may revoke an applicant's eligibility to participate in the eating contest, or related activities, at any time, for any reason, at its sole discretion. The MLE/IFOCE and the event sponsors reserve the right, at any time, to change any and all details concerning the event, including, e.g., time, duration, location and prize structure.