Yesterday, we told you about Dallas’ first-ever qualifier for the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest and introduced you to homegrown rookie Bryan “The Chazzer” Lipchitz. In his Q&A, Lipchitz said he hopes to eat at least 10 hot dogs and buns on Saturday. How would that compare to some of the other competitive eaters striving to win Nathan’s Contest in Coney Island?
Well, last year Joey “Jaws” Chesnut beat the former six-time champion, Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi, by eating a record-setting 66 Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs and buns in 12 minutes. Kobayashi still holds the record for eating 58 Johnsonville Brats in 10 Minutes. Today’s contender, Marc Laureys, hopes to wolf down 30 hot dogs during the contest, but he and the others on Saturday in Plano will have to deal with two challengers who are ranked 29th and 30th by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. We'll get to No. 30 tomorrow.
Originally from New Orleans, 28-year-old Laureys has lived in Dallas for the last 15 years. He’s a rookie, but he has been training for this Saturday’s contest. The man also known as “Meat Sweat” even has a costume prepared for the contest, but he’s not giving any hints. He’s got about 20 people coming to cheer him on in the splash zone -- yeah, the “splash” zone.
How long have you been a competitive eater?
I’ve been following the sport for about seven years, and I’ve always wanted to do the hot dog contest. I was about to go to Arizona last year for one of the qualifiers, but couldn’t make it. This is the first year that there are doing it in Dallas, so this will be my first time. But I’ve always had a big appetite. So, I figured why not?
How did you get introduced to the world of competitive eating?
Watching it on ESPN, originally. The whole Nathan’s thing has kinda taken off. I’ve been following Kobayashi, Chesnut and Sonya Thomas, and all those folks for years.
How do you train before the competition?
There are a lot of things you can do to train. One thing that I like to do is eat Skittles. I try to go through a big quarter pound or 16-ounce bag of Skittles to build my jaw strength. Of course, it helps to always be eating as much as you can, just to try and stretch out your stomach. This week I’m on a regiment of rice, lettuce, spinach and lots of water. The rice helps expand the stomach as much as possible.
How well do think you’ll do this Saturday?
I’m probably handicapped, because I’m only about 160 pounds. So I’m probably giving up at least 40, 50 or 60 pounds to the average competitive eater. But I’m hoping for mid-20s, possibly 30 hot dogs. That’s my goal.
What’s your strategy?
I can eat a hot dog and bun in about 15 seconds. The hard part is maintaining that pace. You’re looking at about 40 hot dogs at that rate in a 10-minute event, and there’s only four or five American-born eaters that can eat 40 hot dogs in a contest. Hopefully the adrenaline will kick in, and from there I can take home the victory. I’ve already got vacation time scheduled for around Coney Island.
Do you dunk or squeeze your buns?
A little mixture of both, because the problem with the dunking technique is the water helps you get the buns down, but the problem is that you become filled with water. You want to try to get a little bit of both. You want to dunk it, squeeze a little bit of water out and try to down that hot dog as quick as you can.
What’s your personal record? How many hot dogs have you eaten in one sitting?
Normally, I just go to the [Maple Avenue Exxon] On The Run. I’ll get two or three and load them up with chili and toppings. Or if I go to a Rangers dollar hot dog night, I might get eight, just to enjoy it.
Most competitive eaters have a nickname. Do you have one, and what is your nickname’s significance?
My nickname is “Meat Sweat.” That’s actually a degree of, well, when you eat too much meat, you get the sweats, and there’s three different degrees of it. And the worst is when you actually sweat the byproduct of your meat. So, I figured, why not? It sounds good to me.
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And lastly, we have to ask, how many wieners can you fit in your mouth at once?
I don’t know. I haven’t really tried. But, if they’re regulation size … I guess five, maybe.
Tomorrow's contender: "Nasty" Nathan Biller. The Texan is currently ranked 30th in the world.
BTW: Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, mentioned above, set a record by eating 8.31 pounds of Armour Vienna Sausage in 10 minutes. --Daniel Rodrigue