“It was a close competition this year,” he said. “I didn't think I was going to win it, looking down at other people's pies. But hey, I pulled through in the end.”
Indeed, Sampaio faced a stiff race from Isaac “Zeek the pie-eating freak” Cohen from CTV, who finished second, and Stephane “hands in your” Paquette from Le Loup 98.9, who finished third.
“My strategy is I don't want to give it up,” he said. “I'm a three-time champion. There's a reason for that.”
Sampaio said he came to the contest hungry for pie.
“I had an everything bagel toasted, with butter, bacon and cheddar cheese at like 4 a.m.,” he said. “That's my biggest advantage — I've been up since 4 a.m., so I'm hungry.”
Northern Life was represented by managing editor Mark “blueberry pie-ceps” Gentili.
While he did manage to get through a good chunk of his pie, he was unable to keep up with the faster-eating contestants.
“I feel I should have strategized a bit more,” he said. “I should have poured my water on the top to soften it a bit so I could get more slurp action.”
Despite feeling the bitter sting of defeat, Gentili is ready for more pie-eating action in 2013.
“I will do it again next year,” he said. “The takeaway message is to start eating blueberry pie at least a month in advance, build up the pie-ceps and come back for more.”
Gentili's two children, Elijah and Asha, watched in dismay as their father was out-eaten.
“I'm like 'He's not going to win, he's not going to win,'” Elijah said, adding that if his dad is going to enter the contest again next year, he'll have to think of another name, “because he doesn't have biceps.”
The blueberry-pie-eating contest, which took place in the Rainbow Centre mall, is held every year as part of the Sudbury Blueberry Festival, which runs until July 22.
John Lindsay, the longtime chair of the festival, said he's participated in the pie-eating contest, but once was enough.
“Maybe that's why we have so many new competitors each year,” he laughs. “They try it, and say 'That's it, one time is enough.' Of course, we've had many champions coming back, so I guess you get used to it after awhile.”
He said he was pleased to see a crowd of about 100 people show up to watch the pie-eating contest.
“It was, as usual – depending on what side of the table you're on — a very entertaining event. For those who are actually taking part, it can be a little bit challenging.”
To learn more about the numerous events taking place over the next few days as part of the Sudbury Blueberry Festival, visit www.blueberryfestival.ca.
Posted by Arron Pickard