Petite woman wins Thanksgiving eating contest
By Lauren Weber
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Petite former Burger King manager Sonya Thomas wolfed down 7-3/4 pounds of holiday food in 12 minutes on Wednesday to defeat a pair of 400-pound rivals and win the Thanksgiving Invitational eating contest.
The 106-pound Thomas of Alexandria, Virginia, devoured massive helpings of yams, green beans, cranberry sauce and turducken, a turkey stuffed with duck, chicken and sausage, to win the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) event.
"I'm full but I could eat more," Thomas, 36, said. Asked her secret, she said, "I just eat fast, that's all."
Thanksgiving, which traditionally centers around a family feast, brings out the overeater in many Americans, but Thomas ruled supreme as she ate her way past 400-pounders Ed "Cookie" Jarvis and Eric "Badlands" Booker, who came in second and third, respectively.
"You need four things" to participate in this sport, said Booker before the contest. "Capacity, strategy, mental toughness and stamina."
"I'm an eating machine," said Booker, who holds world marks in the matzo ball, corned beef hash and doughnut contests.
Being big is no requisite for success, as Thomas proved.
The glamour event on "the circuit" of competitive eating is Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest held in New York's Coney Island neighborhood. Takeru Kobayashi, a slender Japanese man who ate a record 50-1/2 hot dogs and buns in 2001, is the current superstar.
In the Thanksgiving contest, most of the nine competitors used their hands to stuff in the food, while Richard and George Shea, the brothers who head the IFOCE, stood behind them offering commentary.
The IFOCE hosts official eating contests and tracks the world's top eaters, like record-holder Oleg Zhornitskiy, who downed four 32-ounce bowls of mayonnaise in 8 minutes.
Asked her plans for Thanksgiving, Thomas replied, "I'm going to eat more turkey."
The victory earned Thomas two airline tickets anywhere in the continental United States, and a turkey statuette.
She must be about 25% stomach.