Contestant eats 51 datil peppers for the win

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St. Augustine resident Neil Amato took home the golden fire extinguisher in the 5th annual Datil Pepper Eating Contest at Hot Shot Bakery.

Amato loves hot foods. After reading about the contest, he thought “Why not?

“This one was a lot of fun last year, so it was an easy decision for me,” Amato said.

As the winner, Amato received $50 in cash, lunch for two at Hot Shot Bakery, a keepsake gold fire extinguisher and a charter fishing trip with Capt. Luke from Fish St. Augustine.

For the win, Amato ate 51 hot peppers dipped in chocolate.

“I can’t divulge my secret,” Amato said. “But the key was to keep going until it was over. I knew that once I stopped chewing, the heat level in my mouth would really kick up, so I continued chewing.

He also made sure to eat and drink a good amount after the contest.

“My girlfriend had a Hot Shot milkshake waiting for me after the contest, which was a lifesaver!”