Former Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony touched down in the Big Apple on Monday night as the newest bright light of the New York Knicks, part of a three-team trade that will reward the latest Knick forward, who plays his first game tonight at Madison Square Garden, with a whopping $65 million blockbuster deal. Anthony will no doubt attract throngs of fans to the Garden -- and to Midtown Manhattan's iconic Carnegie Deli, which, in honor of Anthony's arrival, is hustling a skyscraping sandwich that's roughly the size of Anthony's ego.
The sandwich, named the "Melo," is the enormous mouthpiece of Carnegie owner Sandy Levine, who, when I got him on the horn this morning, said that he'd sold 35 of the gut-bombs between 3 p.m. and midnight yesterday. He expects that number to increase substantially today, although he's not holding out hope that anyone will actually have the appetite to eat the whole thing. "No one can finish it," he deadpans. If you do, though, he promises that you'll get a second one on the house -- for free. "But if you can't finish the second one, then you'll have to pay for both," he jokes.
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But the sandwich -- piles of pastrami and corned beef, bacon, salami, lettuce, tomato and an generous slather of Russian dressing -- is serious business. "We put bacon on there, because we hope that Melo will bring the bacon back to New York -- and hopefully a championship -- and it's got salami, because we want to spice up the fans, the city and the Garden," says Levine. The Russian dressing, he wisecracks, is a heartfelt "special in-your-face" jab at Mikhail Prokhorov, the New Jersey Nets owner who was also trying to cash in on Anthony's balls. "We slammed it with Russian dressing in honor of him."
The sandwich's price -- $21.95 -- is also significant. "Carmelo's contract is roughly around $65 million, and if you multiply $21.95 by three, the number of years in his contract, it's about $65, which is the price in millions that Carmelo is getting paid," Levine says, adding that the deli will need to sell roughly three million "Melos" in order to match the player's ginormous salary.
Levine, who refers to himself as the deli's MBD -- "I'm married to the boss's daughter," he confides -- says that the behemoth sandwich, which stands sixteen inches tall, is all in good fun, even if it kills you. "We're definitely going to keep all the heart surgeons in the country busy," he quips.