Food & Drink

Winner of Calle Ocho’s croqueta-eating contest gulps down 158 in 8 minutes

The winner of Calle Ocho’s first croqueta-eating contest Sunday scarfed down just under 20 of the fried ham rolls per minute.

Carmen Cincotti of New Jersey ate an impressive 158 croquetas in eight minutes, beating out the second-place finisher with 144 croquetas.

Joey Chestnut, who Major League Eating called “the greatest eater in history,” was favored to win the contest, but he dropped out sick at the last moment. He’s still never eaten a croqueta.

Cincotti is ranked third by the group, which was in town for the event.

It was Cincotti’s first time eating the traditional Cuban snack. “The food was delicious, for sure. It made it a lot easier to get down,” he said. “Next year I’m going for 200.”

He said he’d use the $1,750 in prize money for Pepto Bismol.

This was the first year Calle Ocho held the contest, called “El Croquetazo.” And it’s the first held in the world, according to Major League Eating.

Cincotti, 23, smoked the competitors from an earlier contest, which featured local celebrities.

Jose Antonio Alvarez from 107.5 Amor — Tardes Caliente took home first place with 14 croquetas in five minutes. His strategy?

“To drink water, one croqueta, drink water, one croqueta, and drink water. And eat it slowly,” he said.

Alvarez’s victory means cash will be donated to his favorite charity, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, where he’s been volunteering for more than 20 years.

Roxanne Vargas from NBC 6 ate seven and called Alvarez’s feat “#goals.” The only disappointment in her “graceful” loss, she said, is that her charity of choice, Amigos for Kids, doesn’t get any prize money.

“I’m sorry I let you down, Amigos! But, I’ll send you a donation because I didn’t win,” she said. “I love what they do.”