Despite the obesity epidemic in America today, extreme eating contests are more popular than ever. Check out the world-record appetites of these extreme eaters.
First up: Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi, the 160-pound champion from Nagano, Japan.
Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi
In October 2006, ESPN2 televised the third annual Krystal Square Off hamburger eating contest in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The winner was Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi, a 160-pound competitive eating champion from Nagano, Japan, who downed 97 square Krystal burgers in just 8 minutes. Kobayashi may have left with a bit of gas, but he also left with a lot of cash -- first prize was $10,000. One of the top competitive eaters in the world, Kobayashi held the world record for hot dog eating until 2007, and he won the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island six years in a row (2001-2006).
Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas
At a mere 105 pounds, Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, from Alexandria, Virginia, is the reigning lobster-eating champion, downing 44 Maine lobsters totaling 11.3 pounds of meat in 12 minutes in August 2005, at the second annual World Lobster-Eating Championship in Kennebunkport, Maine. Thomas broke her own lobster record at the event and won $500 and the right to wear "The Claw," the championship belt that goes with the title. Thomas has held more than 40 world titles for competitive eating. She got the nickname "The Black Widow" for outeating male competitors many times her weight.
Rich "The Locust" LeFevre
Some like it hot, and Rich "The Locust" LeFevre is no exception. In October 2006, the sixty-something, 132-pound, retired CPA from Henderson, Nevada, set the world record for eating 247 pickled jalapeño peppers in 8 minutes. He also holds world records for eating 1.5 gallons of chili in 10 minutes; 30 Tex-Mex rolls in 12 minutes in March 2005; and 7.75 pounds of huevos rancheros -- a spicy Mexican breakfast dish -- in 10 minutes in March 2006.
Wings are the thing for Joey Chestnut, a 230-pound extreme eater from San Jose, California. He's the world champion chicken wings eater, downing 182 of them in 30 minutes in February 2007, at Wing Bowl 15, an annual event held in Philadelphia on the Friday before the Super Bowl. Chestnut also holds the world record for hot dog eating. In July 2007, he defeated six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi by eating 66 hot dogs (and buns) in 12 minutes at the annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Shoofly pie is a rich Pennsylvania Dutch sponge cake with molasses filling. Patrick Bertoletti, a 190-pounder from Chicago, holds the shoofly pie-eating record, scarfing down 11.1 pounds (37 slices) of pie in 8 minutes in June 2007. Since he emerged on the competitive-eating circuit in 2006, Bertoletti has numerous victories under his belt, including a world record 19 slices of pizza at the Three Brothers Pizza Eating Championship in August 2006.
Bill "Crazy Legs" Conti
New York City window washer Bill "Crazy Legs" Conti is the world record pancake eater. On July 4, 2002, in his rookie year as a competitive eater, Conti ate a 3.5 pound stack of pancakes (and bacon) in 12 minutes at the Hibernation Cup in Anchorage, Alaska. A documentary was produced about his life called Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating.
Dale Boone, a 303-pounder from Atlanta, Georgia, holds the world record for eating reindeer sausages, downing 28 of Santa's helpers in 10 minutes in 2002 in Anchorage. He also holds the world record for eating 84 ounces of baked beans in 1 minute, 52 seconds.
Oy, vey! Twenty-one matzo balls is a lot of dough for most people, but not for Eric Booker, a 440-pound heavyweight from Copaigue, New York. In January 2004, he ate 21 baseball-sized matzo balls in 5 minutes, 25 seconds, at Ben's deli in Manhattan to set the world record. Booker is also known in hip-hop circles as a rapper with two albums and numerous appearances on Last Call with Carson Daly, where he serves as announcer and "Eater in Residence."
Erik "The Red" Denmark
Erik "The Red" Denmark, a 208-pounder from Seattle, ate a world record 4 pounds, 15 ounces of spot shrimp in 12 minutes in September 2006. He also holds the record for Native American fry bread, eating 9.75 fry breads in 8 minutes in October 2006.
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