The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo earlier this month celebrated its 10,000th contestant attempting to consume its famous 72-ounce steak dinner.
The rules of the challenge may be found here. If one doesn’t finish it in one hour, it costs $72. The challenge requires eating a baked potato, cocktail shrimp, dinner roll, salad, and a 72-ounce steak. John Lamons, who accomplished the feat in just 60 minutes and a few seconds, was the one who ate the 10,000th dinner in September to get it for free.
Within one hour, slightly more than 10% of participants manage to complete the meal. Furthermore, each competition takes place in the spacious dining area of the Big Texan and is also broadcasted in real-time on the eatery’s YouTube channel.
According to the Globe-Amarillo News, Lee R.J. Began the challenge dinner at the restaurant’s establishment on Route 66 in November 1960, long after it first opened.
Bobby Lee, the son of the late R.J., Mentioned that the restaurant embraced a western concept partly due to its customer base.
“Because it was a couple blocks over from the stockyards, the cowboys would come over after work, and he (R.J. Lee) would sell nickel beer, and cash their paychecks. He put them in the center of the dining room, and these real cowboys were the things that made The Big Texan,” Bobby Lee said. “The tourists would come in, and there would be real cowboys in the center of this dining room drinking beer, trying to outdo each other, dancing on the table drinking tequila.” According to Bobby Lee, it was one of these cowboys who had come into the diner one day and ate five 1-pound steaks, a baked potato, diner salad, shrimp cocktail, and a dinner roll within an hour. From there, the owner said that “Anyone that could eat that much food should have it free,” and the meal and The Big Texas has become internationally known since.
Molly Schuyler, a competitive eater and housewife from Nebraska, is also a record holder. During her first dinner at the restaurant, she consumed the 72-ounce steak in just 4 minutes and 20 seconds, which is quite impressive.
Lee informed the newspaper that Schuyler desired to consume a fourth meal, but he declined her plea.
Lee also mentioned that a Bengal tiger on a leash once devoured the steak in approximately 90 seconds.
It was a memorable part of creating an atmosphere. The stockyards were doing business with real-life cowboys, and the restaurant welcomed them with “two-bit beer.” Musicians dressed in ten-gallon hats and Western attire serenaded diners with fiddles and guitars. Lee told tourists that they wanted to see other Western sights and cowboys. When R.J. Lee bought a barbecue joint on Amarillo Boulevard in 1960, there was no Wild West-themed restaurant in Amarillo. According to the self-published book “Steak: The Story of the 72-oz. Free” (Amazon link), it came out in 1960.
In 1970, following the bypass of Route 66, Lee hastily constructed a fresh Big Texan along Interstate 40, utilizing salvaged materials from Air Force barracks.