Father of five wins bean festival eating contest
by Nikki Chase
Sep 12, 2013 | 1771 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Burrito eating contest
Gabe Zambrano eats his way to a first-place finish in a bean burrito eating contest Sunday, Sept. 8, at the Tracy Dry Bean Festival. Zambrano ate two complete burritos in two minutes for the win.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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None of the four contestants in the Tracy Dry Bean Festival bean burrito eating contest suspected when they arrived at the festival that they’d be racing to eat burritos in front of a crowd.

Tracy father of five Gabriel Zambrano, 42; Stockton resident Robert Lee, 51; Mike McClintic, 24, of Tracy; and 13-year-old Kaitlin Cuevas were all approached by volunteers before the contest on Sunday, Sept. 8.

“Really, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Zambrano, the eventual winner.

When he unwrapped his first burrito and saw its size, his first thought was, “Man, I hope they’re good.”

McClintic was more worried about what he ate before entering the contest.

“I had quite a bit of food already,” he said, “so this may or may not be a good idea.”

The burritos were stacked in fives and stuffed with beans.

Sofia Valenzuela, president of the Tracy Chamber of Commerce, explained the rules and then started a two-minute timer. As the contestants on stage chewed and swallowed, the audience around them grew larger and louder, cheering them on.

“The crowd loved it. I can tell people are having a good time,” she said. “I can see this growing in the future.”

Although the eating contest proved popular in its first year in 2012, the chamber made some changes.

“Because it’s a bean burrito, it’s so rich. A lot of the contestants last year were getting sick,” Valenzuela said. “That’s why we limited it to two minutes. Last year, it was three.”

On Sunday, Zambrano took an early lead and started on his second burrito before his rivals had finished their first.

The crowd joined in the final five-second countdown, and at the end, Zambrano was named the winner, having finished two full burritos.

He won $50 and got to take the remaining three burritos home.

His son Michaelangelo, a first-grader at Central Elementary School, ran up to congratulate him afterward, bragging, “That’s my dad!”

When asked how he felt after his win, Zambrano said: “Full. I don’t think I’ll be eating anything else after this.”

The bean burritos for the eating contest were donated by Mi Esperanza meat market, 912 and 918 Central Ave.

• Contact the Tracy Press at 835-3030 or tpnews@tracypress.com.

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