He's a champ at being a La-Z-Boy

  • Updated: January 7, 2010 - 1:07 AM

Jeff Miller, by watching sports for 72 consecutive hours, won the Ultimate Couch Potato contest for the third year in a row.

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Jeff Miller, winner of ESPN Zone’s Ultimate Couch Potato contest three years running, probably could use a nap.

Many of us have spent a day hunkered down on the couch for multiple hours of consecutive sports viewing on TV. Five hours? Eight hours? Not hard to do.

But what about 72 consecutive hours ... without a wink of sleep ... with bathroom breaks allowed only once every eight hours ... and with nothing but poker or Chip Caray's voice to keep you company in the wee hours.

Jeff Miller did it. Miller, a 26-year-old business owner from Chicago, won ESPN Zone's Ultimate Couch Potato competition for the third consecutive year. He sat down on an ESPN Zone recliner at 10 a.m. Friday (New Year's Day) and didn't stop watching televised sports until 10 a.m. Monday. In the process, he set an unofficial Guinness World Record and learned to respect what he had done.

"It's a lot more challenging than people think," Miller said by phone Wednesday. "The body reacts in a very strange way after being deprived that long. There are definitely hallucinations. ... In my head, the competition took place in a dozen different rooms. Really, it was just one room."

That's one room with a bunch of recliners, unlimited food and drink (but no alcohol), one giant TV and six smaller screens flanking it on each side -- and nothing but sports events on those TVs.

College football bowl games carried competitors through the first day, while NFL games on Sunday got Miller down the home stretch. The overnights were the toughest.

"The most brutal one was baseball. One channel was showing replays of this year's baseball playoffs," Miller said. "Hearing Chip Caray's voice at 4 in the morning kind of puts you to sleep."

But he fought off three other competitors, who made it through a pool of countless applicants and an interview process in an attempt to dethrone the now three-time champion. The runner-up fell asleep at 4:21 a.m. Monday.

"That was a huge sigh of relief," Miller said. "At that point, I was still feeling all right. I said, 'Why don't we keep going?' I thought it would be cool to go a full three days. It got really challenging toward the end, but I made it."

Miller won a customized recliner (which he's giving away), $1,000 toward a home theater, a year of free cable TV and his third trophy in as many years. And, of course, the undying respect of some people.

"My friends break down into two groups," Miller said. "One that says they can't believe I stuck it out that long, and another that says I'm really lazy."

MICHAEL RAND

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