Supporters of the United Way of West Alabama can raise money for the organization simply by eating all the pizza their bellies can hold at Heat Pizza Bar in Tuscaloosa on June 18.

Heat Pizza Bar, a favorite with the University of Alabama crowd, has turned the annual pizza-eating contest into a grand affair over the years. The event draws professional competitive eaters as well as locals and other contestants from across the region.

Each competitor attempts to gobble down the most pizza for a United Way partner agency, such as Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama, Boys & Girls Club of West Alabama, Child Abuse Prevention Services of Tuscaloosa, the Alabama Head Injury Foundation, and Arts ‘n Autism, among many others.

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The contest yields two winners each year: the contestant who raises the most money for their favorite partner agency and the one who eats the most pizza in the shortest time.

The pizza eating contest is a guaranteed headline maker for both United Way of West Alabama and for Heat Pizza Bar, which launched the contest in 2015—the same year that the restaurant opened in downtown Tuscaloosa. Frank Fleming started the restaurant a few years after graduating from the University of Alabama.

During a visit to T-town last year, Dave Portnoy reviewed Heat Pizza Bar and gave it a score of 7.1. Fleming later told YellowHammer News that he was proud of the score. More to the point, he was excited about the exposure from a Portnoy visit.

“It was a really cool, surreal moment,” he said. “I’m just really thankful that he came in and put us on the map like that. The 7.1, if you know him and how he grades, that’s a really solid score. So we’re very happy with it and thankful that he came back.”

Fleming added, “Maybe I put [the pizza in the oven for] an extra 10 or 15 seconds more than we normally do because I know he likes the crisp.”