By Matthew Sigur, The Advocate

Mitch Rotolo Jr. now holds a world record.

The 27-year-old who was born in New Orleans and now lives in Lafayette went to the World Pizza Games in Las Vegas in March and returned to Louisiana a champion.

At the games, Rotolo hand-rolled and tossed out five pizza crusts from 12-ounce dough balls to cover five 12-inch pizza screens.

He did it in 23.4 seconds.

“For the past three years, I’ve placed in the competition,” he said. “Finally, I just got tired of losing.”

Last year, he thought if he could get his time under 30 seconds, which would be a new world record, he would win.

“For the past year, I was so upset because I beat the world record and had done it in 29.5 seconds, but I still lost,” he said. “I did what I wanted to do, and I still got third place.”

After last year’s heartbreak, he took the 2016 games more seriously.

“I started working out, doing mostly cardio and getting some more finger strength,” he said. “For about a week before the event, I slapped out 500 dough balls just to get my hands ready. I was determined.”

Rotolo is a franchisee for Rotolo’s Pizzeria. He has opened numerous locations of the Louisiana-based business in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas. He has been tossing pizza since he was 7 years old and gained a love of the pizza business from his father — the founder and CEO of Rotolo’s, Mitch Sr.

At the World Pizza Games in Vegas this year, Rotolo got the best preliminary time and went last. Before he could impress the audience, his other competitors reached new world records.

“Right before me, this guy did it in 28.4 seconds,” Rotolo said. “Going up on stage, I knew I had to beat the world record to win first prize. I zoned in pretty hard.”

Up next, Rotolo Jr. will travel to Parma, Italy, with the World Pizza Team to compete in the 25th Annual Pizza World Championship on April 11-13.

“I’m just going to have to control my nerves,” he said. “I think it’s going to be great for Rotolo’s and our branding, getting our name out there. It’s going to be difficult to not be blown away by my surroundings. It’s a crazy thing, definitely.”

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