This Saturday, Competitive Eating's Top Ranks Tackle Lewsville's Hot Tamales

If you're planning on packing on a few extra pounds of fat and grease this weekend, odds are you're headed to the state fair. But up in Lewisville Saturday afternoon, a chosen few iron-stomached meat warriors will down more tamales in 12 minutes than some folks will eat in their lifetime.

It's the sixth annual World Tamale Eating Championship, and this year's table, on the steps of Lewisville City Hall, has drawn the toughest lineup of eaters ever. Consider: Among the competitors are fourth-ranked Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, a former Burger King manager who once downed 80 Chicken McNuggets in five minutes purely out of spite; Tim "Eater X" Janus, a two-time former champ and current record-holder with 71 tamales (in 2007); Erik "the Red" Denmark, ranked seventh in the world, who eats with the crazed abandon of a Viking, but with a better tolerance for spicy foods.

"Nasty" Nate Biller from Wichita Falls, the top-ranked Texan eater -- 18th in the world -- will be trying to claim the tamale title as a homecoming celebration, now that he's just moved back to Texas from New York City. He'd be the first Texan to win the tamale event since Austin's Levi Oliver took it in its first year, 2005.

Biller says he likes his chances in this one, because it's two minutes longer than most Major League Eating events. He says the extra time will give him a chance to catch up to top-ranked eaters who've gotten too used to the 10-minute format.

Biller's looking to shake the flavor left in his mouth after August's Rocky Mountain oyster contest, where he managed just two-and-a-half pounds of what he calls "the grossest thing I've ever eaten in my life... They were done at a casino, and the casino doesn't even serve them, so I don't think they even knew what they were doing," Biller says. "They just flattened them out and breaded them. You couldn't have any condiments, so you were just stuck with that flavor."

The last two years, Lewisville's tamale contest has coincided with the Krystal Square Off hamburger eating championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a more prestigious event that's tended to lure top eaters away from North Texas. Not so this year, and Biller's going to be needing a big improvement over his 42 tamales last year if he's going to compete.

Tamales are prepared by Lewisville's Dallas Tortilla and Tamale Factory, and the contest gets going at 1:15 p.m. Saturday, in the thick of the town's annual Western Days Festival.

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