MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- When customers at the Dillons in the West Loop Shopping Center in Manhattan get in the check-out line where Ricardo Cruz is working, they have the number one bagger in Kansas loading up their groceries.
Cruz is a junior at Kansas State University majoring in Public Relations. Originally from Junction City, he moved to Manhattan to attend college. He has been working at Dillon’s for the past 2.5 years.
He won the regional and state competitions and on Sunday, he’s headed to the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas to vie for the national title. All of the best baggers from different states will compete in the Best Bagger Championship during The National Grocers Association Show on Monday, February 13, 2012.
With $10,000 up for grabs and the chance to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman, he’s stepping up his game. Dillons gave him 40 hours to practice his skills. He has also been researching the other competitors online.
"Once I started to get closer to the Vegas contest, I started taking it a little more serious and everything. It’s $10,000 and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. How many people can say they’re the national grocery bagging champion? It’s quirky. If I win, I’d probably take $500 of it and spend it on whatever I want and then put the rest towards college tuition to help my mom so she doesn’t have to pay for it all," he said.
"There’s going to be 30 items and you get three of the reusable bags to use. Speed is probably my best thing. I can bag pretty fast. When you look at the items, you visualize what you want to put in each bag. Once you see the items, you start thinking right away. I’ve also been watching YouTube videos of the other guys that are going to be there. We’ve been doing scouting reports on some of the other people," Cruz added.
The judges will be grading on speed, weight distribution, proper bagging technique, style and appearance.
"Weight distribution is pretty important because if you have a ten pound bag and a two pound bag, that’s an eight pound difference and you won’t get any points for that. I pretty much have the style and appearance down. I kind of go out there with a sweat band and goofy looking but I make sure to wear purple to represent Kansas State. I think I have what it takes. I have a lot of support so I’m going to try to do what I can do to win for everybody. I’m a very competitive guy so once it comes to the actual competition, I’ll get geared up about it and tune out everything and focus on what I’m trying to do," Cruz told 13 News.