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Competitive Eating

Competitive eating has skyrocketed in popularity the past years as a new breed of competitor has arrived and started demolishing records. Initially started by Nathans famous hot dog eating contest, this hobby now hasinternational competition and tournaments. Competitive eating is the act of competing against others with the speed in which you can eat. Typical competitive eating contests have multiple contestants trying to eat as much food in a certain amount of time. If you like eating and believe you are fast enough to be a champion, then this hobby can be a great fit for you.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other competitive eating resources. We have a competitive eating forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with competitive eating how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best competitive eating books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis



Competitive eating is on the rise as a popular hobby and spectator sport. There are websites listing all of the contests going on within a certain time span. These advocate almost 100 major contests specializing in the consumption of everything from hot dogs to tiramisu. Some of the more popular eaters have their own fan clubs, sparked by the fame achieved from starring in these ever increasingly popular contests with purses of over 20,000 dollars. Here is a look at the world of competitive eating.


Competitive eating contests often have eight, 10, 12 or 15 minute time limits. Eaters are often allowed to dunk foods in water or other liquids in order to soften the food and make it easier to chew and swallow.

There is one fairly disgusting issue that must be considered with competitive eating. What if someone can’t hold all that food and they throw up? The IFOCE rules are decided about this issue, and thankfully, they are quite tactful about the words that they use to discuss someone who has vomited. A contestant who has "a Roman incident" will be disqualified if any such incident comes in contact with the contestant’s plate or the table. Once time is up, competitors can handle the contents of their stomach in any manner they choose.

While it can occasionally lead to controversy, the decision of the judges is final in the contest. For example, in 2002 at the Nathan’s Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, the current record holder Takeru Kobayashi reportedly had a Roman incident involving a bit of hot dog but managed to hold it back with his hands until the time ran out.

Tips And Tricks

Many competitive eaters break their food into smaller pieces before eating it. The logic behind this is that the competitor will not have to chew as much and it also allows them to fit more food in their mouth at one time. The "Solomon Technique" (also known as "Japanesing") is where a hot dog is broken in half, making it possible to shove the whole dog into the competitor’s mouth at one time. For hot dog eating contests, most serious eaters will eat the bun and the hot dog separately.

Dunking, which was mentioned earlier in this article, is practiced by almost all competitors. Dunking the food lubricates it and makes it soft, so that it is much easier to chew and swallow.

Before a competition, be sure to eat low-fat, high-fiber and water-filled foods that take a long time to digest like cabbage, celery and pineapple. The more food you have going to your stomach, the more it will stretch and the more you will be able to fit in your stomach during an event.

Never starve yourself before a competition. This will make your stomach shrink, which is the opposite of what you’ve been training for.

During a competition, be sure to keep your pace. If you slow down, your body will begin to fight against you and it will be more difficult to continue. It’s very important to keep your eating rhythm while you are competing.

After the competition is over, you will feel sick. The adrenaline will slow down and your stomach will definitely hurt.

Competitive eating is mostly a battle of willpower. Competitive eaters must learn to fight their gag reflexes and their stomach`s natural reaction to an unnatural amount of food being piled into it very quickly.


Q. Are All Serious Competitive Eaters Men?

A. No, Competitive eating is not just for the guys. One of the top champs is Sonya Thomas, a Virginia native who holds the record for eating in chicken wings, (167) chicken nuggets, (80 in five minutes) and she also is the champ for cheesecake, (11 pounds in nine minutes).

Q. Which Competitors Do Better In Competition, Lean Or Fat?

A. According to the International Federation of Competitive Eating, the more physically fit eaters are more likely to do well. There is a theory out there, known as the belt of fat theory. It does not have a lot of academic support, but it states that the fat that is situated around the stomach limits the stomach’s ability to expand. So, it stands to reason that a fit person with less fat around their stomach would be able to fit more in their stomachs than a fatter person would. Some of the top competitors are very small people, in fact. Takeru Kobayashi weighs in at 132 pounds, Sonya Thomas, mentioned above, weighs 105 and Richard LeFevre checks in the same as Kobayashi, 132 pounds.

Q. How Much Money Can Be Made In Competitive Eating?

A. The International Federation of Competitive Eating offers over 200 events with about a total of $ 400,000 in prize money to be had. This really isn’t what you could count on to pay your bills. However, over the past few years, the money offered has seen a notable rise. The IFOCE is seeing a growing industry, with fierce competitions and competitors. It’s a far cry from when the only prize was the glory and whatever food you could consume. The sport is seeing other federations cropping up, such as the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters, which has its own heroes to uphold. Both associations are working hard to promote their best eaters as spokespeople for the sport. It has been reported that Takeru Kobayashi made about 150,000 dollars in one year from eating contests.

Q. What Kind Of Foods Are Typically Found At The Competitions?

A. There is a bill of standard fare associated with food eating contests. Pizza, chicken in various forms, and of course, the hot dog is perhaps the best known. This does not mean that is all there is out there. Anything can be a part of an eating contest. For instance, butter was Donald Lerman’s winning food, when he ate seven sticks in five minutes. Takeru Kobayashi plowed through 17 pounds of cow brains in 15 minutes. For the win, Oleg Zhornitskiy sucked down 128 ounces of mayonnaise in eight minutes.

Notable Record Holders

While we have mentioned several record holders in this article, here is a summary of a few of the greats-

• Joe Chestnut, 103 Krystal burgers in eight minutes

• Sonya Thomas, 14 and a quarter ounces of fruitcake in 10 minutes.

• Eric Booker, 49 glazed doughnuts in eight minutes

• Richard LeFevre, (who, by the way, was 65 at the time) six pounds of Spam in 12 minutes.

• Dale Boone, 274 Russian dumplings in six minutes.

• Juliet Lee, 13 and one half pounds of cranberry sauce.

• Crazy Legs Conti, five and a half pounds of buffet food in 12 minutes.

• Tim Janus, 141 pieces of Nigiri sushi in six minutes.


Some of the dangers connected to competitive eating are viable concerns and should be taken seriously. While some of the most successful competitors engage in intensive training, all that is before the contest. What anyone else sees is a bunch of adults stuffing their faces with hot dogs, lobsters or cabbages amid a cheering crowd? It is this atmosphere that is causing worry among many dieticians. Competitive eating is said to send messages to the crowd that eating as much as you can as fast as you can is not a problem.

Medical professionals are concerned that it can exacerbate other problems, such as causing someone with an undiagnosed ulcer to develop a perforation in their stomach.

Training by taking in large amounts of water can cause water intoxication. This is a deadly result of the dilution of electrolytes in the blood.

The stuffing of one’s stomach can lead to vomiting. If the competitor vomits regularly (either during a competition or after) they have an increased chance of getting food in their lungs, which can lead to pneumonia.


Competitive eating can indeed be a profitable and fun hobby. Take care to make sure you are healthy, train your body to handle the tremendous influx of food, and stay fit the rest of the time that you are not competing.