Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Events

At Clearwater's Hooters Wing-Eating Contest, rookie Miki Sudo will battle Joey Chestnut

Joey Chestnut is the world's most famous professional eater, a man who in just 10 minutes can put away 69 hot dogs, 47 grilled cheese sandwiches, 118 jalapeno poppers, 5.9 pounds of funnel cake or 53 Taco Bell soft beef tacos. Your choice.

So when he returns to Clearwater on Thursday to defend his title in the Hooters World Wing-Eating Championship — last year, he crushed 144 wings in 10 minutes — he has to be the odds-on favorite, right?

Not so fast. Meet Miki Sudo, a 27-year-old Major League Eating rookie who, at a regional qualifier in June, destroyed Chestnut's 2012 title-winning total, downing 192 wings in 10 minutes in her hometown of Las Vegas.

Sudo is something of a phenomenon in the world of professional eating. Since joining the pro circuit in April, she's zoomed to No. 7 in the Major League Eating rankings, in the process actually beating Chestnut head-to-head in a rib-eating contest in Chicago. Sudo ate 2.9 pounds of rib meat in 8 minutes; Chestnut could muster only a mere 2.5.

All of this is a surreal new world to Sudo, who stands 5 feet 7 and weighs 125 pounds, with a trim, athletic build.

"It's like I woke up one day and realized I'm good at something," Sudo said recently by phone from Las Vegas.

"But it's been a whole lot of fun. I get to combine eating with traveling with meeting new people with competition. These are four things that I absolutely love. So it's been the best of a whole lot of worlds."

As Sudo comes to Clearwater, she talked about her potential as an eater, the art of downing a Hooters wing and more. Here are excerpts.

You beat Joey Chestnut head-to-head in a rib-eating competition, and then you've got this wing competition. What is it about meat with bones that you seem to do well with?

We call them debris foods, because you end up discarding all the bones and cartilage and all that. But I think my advantage is it's more based on technique and speed rather than chewing capacity. None of us get full by the end of the 10-minute competition. … Because it's not a head-to-head capacity contest, I can really take off. And I really enjoy chicken wings and ribs. That can't hurt, right?

Have you always been a big eater?

No, not at all. About a year and a half ago, I took on this 12-pound bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup, pho. If you finished this massive bowl, you would collect the progressive jackpot, which happened to be at $1,500. So a couple of my friends had done it and failed, and I was just like, I can do that. … So that was without any practice or any planning, really. I guess it's just something that I discovered. Growing up, I didn't have a huge appetite. … That's never been me.

Is there a technique to eating a Hooters chicken wing really fast?

There's no pacing yourself. You just go as fast as you can for all 10 minutes. Nobody's going to be hitting capacity. We're all going to be eating somewhere between 5 to 7 pounds of chicken wing meat, which is well within our limits. So it's really just speed more than anything. I hold them a certain way, split the bones and scrape the meat off with my teeth.

What do you think about when you're doing it? Or is it all concentration on your technique?

When I'm eating, I really don't think about anything. I don't hear anything other than the time. I don't listen to music. It's just pure focus. Even when I faced off against Joey and other highly ranked eaters, it doesn't really matter who's next to me or who's beside me, who my competition is for the day. It's really a competition against myself, because I'll usually go in with an idea of what I want to do in terms of numbers or weight.

Do you have a target in mind?

I know I can improve upon my total of 192. It depends how it's set up. At the Hard Rock, they gave us a 20-pound bowl of wings. If I had unlimited wings, I could have gotten through more. But I just want to beat my number of 192.

And you feel pretty good that you can?

Yeah. I don't see why not.

Comments
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 21

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 21

Mary J. Blige: Iconic Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and philantrophist is on her Strength of a Woman tour. 7:30 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $47.25-$247.25. (813) 301-2500. The Glass Menagerie: Tennessee Willia...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Amy Hill Hearth’s ‘Streetcar to Justice’ brings back a forgotten story of black history

Amy Hill Hearth’s ‘Streetcar to Justice’ brings back a forgotten story of black history

During Black History Month, many students learn about Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist who in 1955 refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus to a white passenger — and rode into history.A century before that, another black woman mad...
Published: 02/20/18
Notable: Five new books for young readers for Black History Month

Notable: Five new books for young readers for Black History Month

NotableBlack History MonthHere are five more newly published books for young readers, for Black History Month or any time.Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin (Scholastic Press, ages 12 and up) by James L. Swanson, w...
Published: 02/20/18

Haven’t made it out to the county fair yet? There’s still time

DADE CITY — There’s still more to take in before the Pasco County Fair wraps up this weekend. The midway rides are still running, popcorn will be popping and students will be showing their exhibits, including local FFA students showing plants and liv...
Published: 02/20/18

Pasco Events for Feb. 23

23 FridayFree Hearing Evaluations: Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation now offers free hearing evaluations with an audiologist on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. If it is determined that a hearing aid is needed, financial assistance is ...
Published: 02/20/18
Review: A seemingly inexhaustible shelf life continues in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

Review: A seemingly inexhaustible shelf life continues in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

TAMPA Apparently, the Phantom lives forever.Thirty-two years after its premiere, one of the top-grossing musicals of all time is still packing ’em in. Sunday’s matinee at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts showed why Andrew Lloyd ...
Published: 02/19/18

Things to Do in Pasco and Hernando counties starting Feb. 23

FestivalsFlorida Bluegrass Classic: The event continues through Feb. 25 at Florida Classic Park, 5360 Lockhart Road, east of Brooksville. Featuring live entertainment on the stage from 1 to 10 p.m. daily, as well as arts and crafts, workshops, a car ...
Published: 02/19/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 20

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 20

The Phantom of the Opera : Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway hit returns to Tampa. With newly reinvented staging and stunning scenic design, this new version of Phantom is performed by a cast and orches...
Published: 02/19/18
Ordinary dogs take to the Derby Lane greyhound track for the Mutt Derby

Ordinary dogs take to the Derby Lane greyhound track for the Mutt Derby

Some stopped midway, some turned around and ran the wrong way and some dashed to the arms of their owners as more than 300 average house pets took to the track at Derby Lane on Sunday for the Mutt Derby. The popular fundraiser for the Jaycees died o...
Published: 02/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 17

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Feb. 17

Bay Area Renaissance Festival: Highland Fling: The 2018 festival runs weekends through March 25 in a time-travel village of kings, queens, jousting, jugglers, mimes, madrigals, archery contests and a human chess match. 10 a.m., Museum of Science and ...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/18/18