I honestly still can’t believe that this is my full time job – seeing as I got into it all completely by accident.
A few years ago I was studying at Newcastle University, dieting and exercising as best I could and casually watching Man vs Food videos online for fun. But I constantly thought, ‘I reckon I could definitely do that’. I found a restaurant that served a burger challenge called ‘The Gutbuster’ – a 24oz burger smothered in cheese and bacon, which had to be completed in 20 minutes.
I spoke to a few friends, and we all decided to head down there and tackle it. Out of all of my friends, I was the first one to complete the burger within the time limit. I had a before/after photo taken with the burger and the plate which was later picked up by LADbible and went completely viral. The rest was history. It’s been a whirlwind, as I was quickly being approached by other media like Capital FM and Fox News, as well as other restaurants messaging me asking me to come try their food/food challenges.
I was in fourth year of uni when I started working with restaurants, and creating videos which were being seen by hundreds of thousands. I even used the idea as part of my dissertation – to see whether a viral video really does get people physically coming into the doors of these restaurants. With all my tests working, one in particular went incredibly viral (which was amazing because I don’t think my dissertation tutor was convinced until I showed her the numbers).
When I finished university, I was a bit lost with what I wanted to do. I knew I had plenty of marketing experience and wanted to work in a digital company so I could pursue my passion for social media. However, as many people my age know, it’s incredibly tough to get a graduate job straight after uni. The pool has become so talented and hardworking, it feels almost impossible to compete. I only applied for four grad jobs and didn’t make it to any interview rounds due to maths tests and the fact I probably just the fact I wasn’t good enough.
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Throughout the summer I continued to work as a children’s entertainer (Elsa from Frozen, mainly) as I had done for the previous three years, trying to figure things out. However over the years I’d built up so many media contacts from the videos, speaking on work terms and just general friendships. Around December time I was offered two huge opportunities, and took the one of being a full time presenter at the LADbible group.
I learnt so much from everyone there, it was a dream come true. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get on with everybody and the atmosphere of the place was so hard working too. They gave me so much opportunity to grow and a lot more responsibility than I’d been given in the past. I was beyond ecstatic and respected the company even more because of that. I eventually decided to leave to pursue my freelance career again – although I’m still friends with everyone there and have worked with them multiple times since.
Since then I’ve had a lot more presenting opportunities for brands as well as food challenges – lots of work with food/drink recommendations and even travel too.
In terms of logistics – I don’t train as much as an actual competitive eater would. I try to exercise a bit more and eat healthy meals with lots of vegetables and plenty of water. I bounce back by the next day, normally. I wouldn’t say I exercise any more than the average person – just trying to keep in balance as best I can.
My job is my entire life, and I’d probably be quite a boring person without it. I had wanted to be a presenter in the past but thought that job was never within reach because it was so hard to obtain the work experience. However, the power of social media has helped me massively, and would genuinely say that if I can do it, literally anybody can. You just need to be brave enough to put yourself out there – the sooner the better!
I owe everything to the contacts I’ve made. Whether it’s restaurants, media, friends and especially the fans – I genuinely wouldn’t be where I’m at without all of them. I love what I do, and I’m terrified for the day it’ll all end. I’m incredibly grateful that my job is ridiculous but if it all finished tomorrow – at least I can say I had a great run, and go back to normality again.
Life Less Ordinary is a weekly blog series from HuffPost UK that showcases weird, wonderful and transformational life experiences. If you’ve got a story to share, email email@example.com with LLO in the subject line. To read more from the series, visit our dedicated page.