James Finnegan will probably have a tummy ache for a day or two, but it’s a small price to pay for the money he helped bring in for children with cancer.
The 40-year-old Port Jefferson Station resident and his friend Phillip Kraese, 42, of Northport, chowed down a 30-inch round pie in 16 minutes to win Nina's Pizzeria ninth annual Pizza Eating Fundraiser in Northport on Saturday. The two bested last year’s record of 17 minutes and beat out 16 other two-person teams while raising funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is best known for shaving heads around St. Patrick’s Day.
“I believe that I’m healthy and I’m able to do it [hold the contest] and I should do it,” said Artie Berke, owner of Nina's Pizzeria, who used last year’s contest to collect food for the Northport Food Pantry. “It’s good to give back, and it makes me feel better about myself.”
The rules of the contest were simple. No getting up from the table, and teams had to eat every slice of pizza in the box, leaving behind nothing but cardboard. Each team had to donate $100 to get into the competition, raising $1,700 for St. Baldrick’s in entry fees alone. Berke said local shops and fire departments also contributed funds and raffle prizes, which brought in at least an additional $2,000 for the foundation.
For Kraese, St. Baldrick’s was a family affair this year. Back in March he and his three sons, Mason, 12, Gunnar, 7 and Colton, 4, raised $2,600 for shaving their heads. He smiled as he asked Berke for a sangria and maybe some dessert. As for Finnegan, the pizza was all he could handle.
“I’m done,” he said, making sure not to move his body too much as he received his gold medal.
Above: James Finnegan, 40, of Port Jefferson Station and his partner Phillip Kraese, 42, of Northport (across from Finnegan), take their few remaining bites of a 30-inch cheese pizza at Nina's Pizzeria's ninth annual Pizza Eating Fundraiser in Northport to raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.