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The World of Competitive Eating: Then & Now

Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut are just a couple famous names in the world of competitive eating. Both have set records and have won Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Competition.

But how did competitive eating really start? Although it’s still unknown, gorging events were highly popularized by carnival pie eating contests.

Today these contests are taken to the extreme in seeing how much food the contestants can scarf down in a manner of minutes. Even condiments are becoming part of the sport. Butter and mayonnaise have been featured in some competitions.

Gurgitators, as they like to be called, like Kobayashi and Chestnut actually make money off their eating gigs, due to sponsorship. Chestnut’s main sponsor is Pepto Bismol, while Pizza Hut, Nextflix and Heinz Ketchup also popular sponsors.

While competitive gorgers can make money off the contests themselves, the majority of their overeating income comes from their sponsorships. A really good face-stuffer can make upwards of $100,000, according to Huffington Post.

Like many sports, competitive eaters train to make it to the big leagues. Some drink loads of water to stretch out their stomach, while others load up on hotdogs or lettuce.

Arizona’s own Michelle “Cardboard Shell” Lesco trains for these competitions simply by going around to different restaurants to partake in their food challenges.

Attempting, and completing, local restaurant food challenges are one of the gateways that can take an overeater into the glamorized world of competitive eating.

Surprisingly, most gurgitators don’t throw up after a competition. Purging, they say, separates the amateurs from the winners.