I've learned a few things from competitive eaters lately. There's some interesting psychology at play in the sport, which arise from two opposite camps: some take a certain laissez-fair approach, while others embrace the masochism for all its worth.
See Also: Interview with Kobayashi
Makes sense, right? It's either: "I'm in training and I'll suffer for the next day in order to win," or "Maybe I'll have a big lunch and just forget about it."
So, prior to the State Fair hot dog-eating contest I talked to four different people who were getting ready for the feast. One was Kobayashi. And even though for him it was a light day, just a "demonstration," he was all business at an interview that morning. No smiles, no jokes. His game face was on. And he ate 60 hot dogs in 5 minutes.
Another guy we talked to, Moose, was going through a rather rigorous physical regime to prep, including a physcho death run. He finished fourth in the contest.
Then, Jesse at the Observer pondered the contest, as he dabbles in competitive eating contests on occasion, but blew it off after a big lunch.
Finally, there's Barlas Yuce from Fort Worth who won the competition by eating 20 hotdogs in five minutes.
"I've never done anything like this before," said Yuce, "I never thought I would win."
He didn't prep at all, but was "pretty hungry when we started so I was ready to get my eat on."
See? Just like another day at the Fair. 'Let's go for a walk in the park, and, hey! Maybe I'll eat 20 hot dogs tonight.'
Yuce lives in Fort Worth, has been a Dallas resident previously and is originally from Turkey. He said he didn't really feel bad after eating 20 hot dogs.
"It doesn't make the body feel great to eat that many hot dogs," said Yuce, "but they were high quality, so I was fine. I felt like I had just had a large steak with all the fixings."
He did pick up a few pre-game tips from Kobi that helped him to victory.
"He said, 'Eat at your own pace.' So, I took that to heart," Yuce said. "I didn't eat super fast, just steady. I ate one hot dog at a time, and drank a lot of water. I didn't find out I won until my friend in the crowd gave me a thumbs-up."
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Want to know the craziest part of Yuce's day at the Fair? He ate chicken fried bacon afterwards.
"We stayed and sate some chicken fried bacon and fried latte's," he said. "They were delicious."
I'm really not sure what the lesson is here. But, I'm sure there is one. Perhaps it's up for interpretation.
Yuce won $1,000 for eating 20 hot dogs and said he plans to use some of it towards the Margarita Ball. Maybe the lesson is it'd be cool to hang with Yuce.