CHILLICOTHE― The official jerky of esports settles down in Chillicothe with a new storefront, a ribbon cutting and a nuclear jerky eating contest.
Chillicothe native Dan Oney opened the Jerky Pro shop at 486 S. Paint St. this month after operating the business for eight years. The business has about 20 vending locations across the Midwest, but has never has a physical location in Chillicothe.
After retiring from the Chillicothe Police Department, Oney wanted to find something new to be passionate about.
"I've always told people I'd rather work 100 hours for myself than work 40 hours for someone else," Oney said. "I think that is a huge thing, to be a small business owner and make your own rules."
The store offers a variety of jerky, like nuclear and exotic, all 100% made in the USA.
The ribbon-cutting event drew community support with over 30 people in attendance. Oney said Jerky Pro is the official jerky of esports, or competitive video games.
"We've been able to garner a lot of following within the esports community and you couldn't ask for better people," Oney said. "A lot of the people are from here from out of state... it's just proof that you open a company like this and you have such a great product and a rapport with your customers that they're willing to do that and that speaks absolute volumes."
Ribbon-cutting visitors traveled from across the state, with a few people making the drive from Wisconsin, Indiana, South Carolina and more.
With a long list of awards, a large national following and local community support, Oney said he is excited to expand the business in Chillicothe.
To celebrate the ribbon cutting, Jerky Pro held the #NuclearChallenge where participants ate "extremely hot" nuclear jerky, followed by the Paqui One Chip Challenge Carolina Reaper and the world's hottest gummy bear.
Six participants signed waivers to join the contest and test their spice tolerance. All but one finished the three ounce bag of nuclear jerky and went on to the One Chip Challenge.
Most kept their cool during the challenge, not showing the intensity of the jerky. Ohio Christian University student Brandon Benner participated in the challenge and gave the audience a show as he coughed, fidgeted in his seat and wiped tears from his eyes. His esports team cheered him on from the crowd. He passed the jerky and chip challenge, but decided to drop out prior to trying the gummy bear.
Two participants were left to try to world's hottest gummy bear. Skylar Morris from Washington Court House ultimately won the challenge and a year's worth of jerky.
Megan Becker is a reporter for the Chillicothe Gazette. Call her at 740-349-1106, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @BeckerReporting.