AFTON, Wyo. — An Olympic champion wrestler has been serving a 1.5-pound hamburger at his Wyoming restaurant, even while competing to be "The Biggest Loser" on TV.
The mighty Rulon Burger at Rulon Gardner's Burger Barn restaurant is so big it's molded in a pizza tin. It comes on a bun with all the toppings.
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Gardner won gold at the 2000 Olympics by beating Alexander Karelin, a Russian who hadn't lost in 13 years. Gardner's challenge to all comers now: Finish the burger plus a basket of fries and a 44-ounce drink in 20 minutes.
Winners get a signed Rulon Gardner Olympic Champion T-shirt and their name on Rulon's Wall of Fame. Gardner's best time is 8 minutes, 23 seconds, set when he opened the restaurant in his hometown in 2004.
This year, Gardner has been competing to lose weight on the NBC show, "The Biggest Loser." He weighed in at the beginning at 474 pounds, more than 200 pounds heavier than when he won gold.
His reality show teammate, Justin Pope, runs a gym with Gardner in Logan, Utah. Viewers have included Jeff Hunsaker of Orem, Utah, who made the Wall of Fame a couple years ago by eating a Rulon Burger in 19 minutes, 1 second.
Hunsaker said he's been trying to lose 30 pounds himself.
"I'm now watching the show because of him and being inspired, frankly," he said.
Hunsaker said he visits the Burger Barn every year while driving to Jackson to ski. His strategy for beating the Rulon Burger included cutting the burger into quarters.
"Failure's not an option in my mind when it comes to things like this," Hunsaker said. "I was going to make it. If I had to throw up, so be it, I was going to get it down."
The last fourth was a killer, he said, but Hunsaker swallowed it all.
"It tasted great," he said.
Gardner has stayed in the news since 2000, and not just by wrestling.
He was stranded in a snowmobile outing in 2002 and lost a toe to frostbite. A car hit him on his motorcycle in 2004. Three years after that, he was forced to swim in 44-degree water when his plane crashed in Lake Powell, Utah.
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