BUFFALO, NY—It's 1:30 a.m. Chris Rierden breathes a beleaguered sigh as he counts a large wad of singles next to the dumpsters behind a local Hooters. Though you wouldn't know it to look at the haggard, sauce-covered 32-year-old, Rierden—who currently ekes out a living hustling unsuspecting locals in impromptu low-stakes chicken-wing-eating contests—was at one time the most promising competitive eater on the professional circuit.
But with one bad decision, that once-bright future went dark forever. Gone is the $85,000 home outside of Akron. Gone is the ESPN2 guest-commentator spot. Gone are the mid-range American cars, the weekend miniature-golf outings, and the decent-looking women.
Chris Rierden threw it all away.
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