One college degree was not enough for professional eater Randy Santel. About 11 years and nearly 730,000 YouTube subscribers later, he almost has his second. However, this time around it will be in dietetics.
Santel received his construction management bachelor’s degree at Missouri State University in 2008. He worked in construction for five years until deciding that it wasn’t fulfilling for him. Santel discovered his passion for health and fitness in 2010 when he won a Body Transformation Contest sponsored by Men’s Health Magazine.
With a passion for health and fitness came a passion for food. Shortly after Santel’s win, his friend invited him to do a 28-inch pizza challenge at Pointer’s Pizza in St. Louis. His cousin filmed that very first food challenge and Santel decided to post it on YouTube for fun. From that point on, he made a video of every food challenge.
“The first 100,000 subscribers to YouTube were very, very hard. It took a long time, a couple years actually,” he said. “But now that everything has been really going, we’ve got some momentum built up. We’re just about to hit 730,000 subscribers on YouTube and we’re just over 700,000 followers on Facebook .”
Santel’s influencer lifestyle hardly interferes with demands from school. He tours different states and countries during breaks and films a food challenge video almost every day.
“I’ve got it good compared to some of the other people involved with social media and YouTube. I just do the eating and I have people who work with me doing all of my video editing,” he said. “The footage goes to my video editors, while I’m able to focus on all of my school stuff and my exercise, and everything that I need to do.”
A calling to return
Santel’s experience at Missouri State the first time greatly influenced his decision to come back eight years later. In playing football for the Bears and building friendships with people he met through events or classes, he was able to make his Missouri Statement more than once.
Natalie Allen has been Santel’s senior-level instructor in several courses at MSU and describes him as a remarkable student.
“Randy is always smiling and is very generous and helpful. In class, he asks great questions. He brings life to the room and I can count on him to speak up when the class needs clarification on a topic,” she said.
A new door opens
After completing almost seven total years of college, Santel said he is excited to graduate. He plans to take the year off to travel and participate in food challenges around the world. In doing this, he hopes to build his following to over 1 million people. Santel will then return to complete his 1,200-hour dietetics internship and test to finally become a registered dietitian.
“On the day I become a registered dietitian, I will be the No. 1 followed dietitian on social media all over the world, so that will open up a lot of big opportunities,” he said. “I’m very excited for that.”
Once Santel is a registered dietitian, he believes his days of food challenges will come to an end.
“It will be a big shift, a transformation of the channel, over to helping people better understand nutrition and weight management,” he said. “I’ll have my footprint all over the world and transfer that over from food challenges to what people really need, which is a better understanding of nutrition and weight management.”
Allen is highly impressed by Santel’s savviness in formulating his own business.
“His social media following is incredible and we often have conversations about how he can use his media connections to promote sound nutrition advice and the field of dietetics”, she said.
Santel can’t wait to be able to serve the people in his social media community that he has built over the past eight years. Until his registered dietitian days, he will continue entertaining his viewers through professional eating.