Minnesota native's appetite for competitive eating paying tuition

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It may surprise some of the people who know him only as "Silo," but Eric Dahl is actually passionate about fitness and conditioning.

That would be surprising because the Delano native is paying his way through the University of Wisconsin in part with the prize money he wins by gorging himself on high-calorie food.

USA Today says Dahl is ready to graduate in Madison next month with a degree in computer engineering, after transferring from Rochester Community and Technical College. The newspaper reports he's raised more than $18,000 of tuition money with his winnings on the local competitive eating circuit.

His chowing prowess has earned Dahl the number one ranking from the National Collegiate Competitive Eating Association. And Dahl tells USA Today eating is absolutely a sport, saying the training and preparation he puts his body and mind through are comparable to what elite athletes do.

A September profile in the Wisconsin State Journal says Dahl took part in football, wrestling, and track and field in high school. What does he do in his current sport? One representative competition came at Dickey's Barbecue Pit in the Twin Cities. The challenge was to down four pounds of meat, four pints of side dishes, and four buttered rolls within 44 minutes. USA Today says he polished it off in 39, although the rolls took 20.

Dahl told the State Journal his preparation sometimes involves eating ten pounds of cabbage or broccoli followed by a gallon of water to help stretch his stomach. In an interview with City Pages last year, Dahl said he'd like to stick with competitive eating after graduation while getting involved in the health and fitness field. He says his knowledge of conditioning and calorie intake will help.

While pizza, corn dogs, and burgers are all in his gustatory wheelhouse, one item that is not is the ghost pepper. Dahl says in his blog that his first encounter with the fiery pepper at a Brooklyn Park wing house did not go well.

The State Journal reports Dahl's biggest payday came at the 2012 California State Fair, when he won $2,500 for downing 20 extra large corn dogs in less than eight minutes.

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