I traveled to Atlanta to cover Super Bowl 53 and lost in a nacho competition to Matt Ryan.
The week leading up to the Super Bowl is a media circus. From former NFL players like Hines Ward and Carson Palmer, to Double Dare host Marc Summers, you never know who is going to show up on Radio Row.
So when you’re presented with the opportunity to compete in a nacho face-off with Matt Ryan, there’s only one logical response, “Uh, yeah. Sure.”
I’m as Type A and competitive as they come. I needed to win. But with little details to go off of, and my lack of cooking chops, I was stressed.
As I set off to the Tostitos Cantina, I tried to hype myself up by rehearsing some trash talk. Boston College isn’t even in Boston! 28-3! I hope you make nachos better than you win Super Bowls! I had this in the bag, or so I thought.
Prior to our face-off I had the opportunity to ask Ryan a few questions and felt my competitive spirit diminish with each one. I couldn’t trash him. He seemed tired. He was clearly eager to plug his Tostitos sponsorship and get home to the Ice Cubes.
A flustered stage tech fixed a microphone piece around my head. It was the kind a fitness instructor would wear while leading a spin class. He told me a fan would be selected from the crowd to work with Matt Ryan, and I’d be competing solo.
I was ushered onto a stage, looking into a sea of black and red Matt Ryan jerseys. The lights were bright, morale was low and all I could think was, “what on Earth did I sign up for?”
We were given five minutes to concoct the perfect nacho platter, that would later be judged on creativity by Jay Glazer.
My choices for toppings ranged from your typical nacho add-ons, to gummy candies shaped like x’s and o’s. All of the stress seemed to disappear the moment the countdown started. With Matt Ryan on stage who is even going to pay attention to me? I worked diligently to layer what I believed to be award winning nachos.
Then, catastrophe struck. As I placed my creation into the microwave to allow the cheese to melt and give the chips a chance to warm up, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I started pushing buttons and hoped for the best.
After the timer went off I took the dish out to find my nachos cold, cheese unmelted. To this day, I’m not sure if it was a weak microwave or if I set a timer instead of actually cooking the chips. Either way, I had two minutes left to salvage my creation and defeat Matt Ryan.
In the final seconds of the competition, I sprinkled some lettuce on top and in a moment of panic — or stroke of genius — topped my nachos with the gummies that had been taunting me all competition. It was a risk, but we were being judged on creativity here.
Matt Ryan and his partner explained their dish to the crowd first. They called it “the dirty bird”. The crowd loved it. I was doomed. So I leaned into it, like REALLY leaned into it.
“My dish is called Sweet Victory,” I explained, emphasizing the gummies. “It’s an ode to the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.” Unsurprisingly, it was met with resounding boos.
After meticulously layering my dish, Jay Glazer picked up the lone, Tostitos chip bare of any toppings and pretended to savor my creation. He walked back to the center of the stage and addressed the crowd.
“My Tostitos World Champion for this year… it’s gotta be Matt Ryan.”
The only thing worse than losing? Learning it was supposed to be rigged in my favor. And that, my friends, is the story of how I lost a nacho competition to NFL quarterback Matt Ryan.