LATROBE (KDKA) — From the hot dog eating contest on the Fourth of July to studio wrestling, you’ve seen his work on some of the world’s biggest stages.
At Coney Island last year, 70 hot dogs in ten minutes wins the annual Nathan’s chow down contest. Male and female championship belts resemble those of world wrestling entertainment.
In fact, all those belts are custom made by a home-based entrepreneur in Latrobe. Andrew Lazarchik’s one-man business, Wildcat Championship Belts, began 12 years ago.
“My parents would take me down to the Civic Arena. I saw Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker,” Lazarchik said.
“I used to make belts out of paper,” he added.
Working with World Wrestling Entertainment is a dream come true.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty neat,” he said. “I’ll have a belt sitting here on the counter in my kitchen on a Thursday, and on Monday night, it’s on international television.”
Belts range from a basic $375 to $14,000 and up. Lazarchik’s business has broadened out to corporate awards, too.
“You know, salesman of the month, employee of the month type things, so that’s kind of the focus that I’m at right now,” Lazarchik said, “and the large majority of my business is corporate [belts] that don’t have anything to do with wrestling at all.”
Lazarchik’s dad once owned Strickler’s Drug Store in Latrobe, where the banana split was invented 113 years ago. Now, his son creates belts for the winner of the pie-eating contest at the annual banana split celebration.
He started making the Coney Island belts before his contract with WWE.
“The mustard yellow belt was named by ESPN Sports as one of the top coolest sports prizes out there, along with the Stanley Cup,” Lazarchik said.