03/04/2013 03:51 pm ET

Tyler Raineri Sriracha Chip: Illinois College Student's Snack Flavor In The Running For $1 Million Prize

An Illinois college student stands to be $1 million richer should the nation's snack-a-holics crown his Sriracha-flavored potato chip to be its new favorite.

The Sriracha chip pitched by Lake Zurich native and current Illinois State University student Tyler Raineri is one of three finalists in the Frito-Lay "Lend Us A Flavor" contest.

The Lake Zurich Courier in Raineri's hometown reported he was alerted more than a month ago that his flavor was a finalist chosen from nearly 3.8 million other entries nationwide.

The college junior, who says he's also a competitive kick boxer, admitted the Sriracha flavor was actually pitched by other entrants as well, but it was his story about his grandmother inspiring the snack that won judges over.

"Grandma's homemade chips were always accompanied with a dab of our favorite sriracha hot sauce. Nothing’s better than old memories," reads Raineri's flavor description.

Raineri tells the ISU magazine State Side, "You create the inspiration or the idea, but it’s Frito-Lay culinary team that actually develops the chip. It got dulled down a little bit. The actual sauce is extremely hot.”

(Read: Sriracha Obsession: How Did The Rooster Sauce Get So Popular?)

Raineri's Sriracha is up against a "Chicken and Waffles" flavor and a "Cheesy Garlic Bread" variety.

As part of the competition, which closes at midnight on Monday, Raineri and the two other finalists went on a whirlwind tour of Frito-Lay's Planto, Tex. headquarters, a trip to Los Angeles for a photo shoot with actress Eva Longoria and celebrity chef Michael Symon and finally a trek east to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

At the NYSE, Raineri said in an interview if he wins the big prize, "The first thing I would do is pay off my college loans." The construction management major also talked of treating his family and friends to a celebratory trip and "invest the rest in my future."

As earlier reported, once the votes are tallied, the person who submitted the winning flavor will win $1 million, or one percent of the chip's 2013 sales — whichever is more -- and their name will appear on the packaging. The runners-up will win $50,000.



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