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Meat cute: Competitive eating power couple now calls Tampa Bay home

Catch Nick Wehry on the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest while his fiancée, reigning champion Miki Sudo, does play-by-play.
Miki Sudo, 35, and fiance Nick Wehry, 32, are internationally renowned competitive eaters. They moved to the Tampa Bay area earlier this year.
Miki Sudo, 35, and fiance Nick Wehry, 32, are internationally renowned competitive eaters. They moved to the Tampa Bay area earlier this year. [ Courtesy of thehungrycouple.com ]
Published Jul. 2
Updated Jul. 2

There’s nothing like a hot dog on the Fourth of July. Just ask competitive eating super couple — and new Tampa Bay residents — Miki Sudo and Nick Wehry.

Sudo is the seven-time reigning female champion at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest, holding the women’s world record with 48 and a half hot dogs from her performance last year. Wehry is also a fearsome competitor, placing third in the men’s contest last year after scarfing down 39 and a half dogs.

The annual event also holds special personal meaning for Sudo and Wehry. The power couple first met on the day of the contest in 2018. This year’s competition now comes during the same month their first child is due. Due to her pregnancy, Sudo won’t be competing.

Sudo and Wehry moved to Temple Terrace earlier this year, where they live with a gray American bully named Dennis. These days, they document their life, and all of their crazy meals, on YouTube and their website, thehungrycouple.com.

Ahead of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, they chatted with the Tampa Bay Times over the phone. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Nick Wehry and Miki Sudo in front of some massive sushi rolls in Wehry's home state of Connecticut.
Nick Wehry and Miki Sudo in front of some massive sushi rolls in Wehry's home state of Connecticut. [ Courtesy of thehungrycouple.com ]

Miki, is this the first time that you haven’t competed in the Nathan’s since you started?

Sudo: I’ve competed every year since 2014. This is the first year that I’m taking a step back, so that throne is vacant. But don’t you get too comfortable, because I’ll be back in 2022.

I’m added as a news commentator. So I’ll be weighing in on the play-by-play commentary on the women’s events and I get to cheer on Nick.

Are you still going to eat hot dogs recreationally while you’re up there?

Absolutely. Just leisurely though. I’m gonna refrain from dunking the buns in warm Crystal Light like I normally do.

I know that everyone approaches it a little bit differently. Nick, do you have like a strategy for eating as many hot dogs as you can?

Wehry: I’ll pick up two hot dogs at one time. And when we’re eating the meats, I have one of the buns in my hand, dunk that bun while I’m eating the hot dog and basically use the bun as a drink to wash the hot dog down. When I’m drinking that bun, I’m dunking the other bun. And as I’m drinking that bun I already have two hot dogs in my hand.

Well, I’m wishing you the best of luck. When did you realize that this was a skill that you had?

Wehry: I’ve been a competitive bodybuilder for about 10, 11 years, and my appetite kind of became a running joke amongst my friends. They were like hey, there’s a pączki eating contest, like Polish jelly doughnuts. You can raise money for charity, even win $200, and you get free doughnuts. And that sounded like a pretty sweet deal. So I went and I did it and I won handily. And it’s just kind of spiraled out of control to where I’m sixth in the world now. I realized I kind of had the ability for it. I love winning and I also hate to lose.

Sudo: It’s cool to see competitive eating grow to the point where people look at us and say, I want to do that. But both of us just like to say we didn’t choose competitive eating competitive, competitive eating chose us.

In my case, I came across a Man vs. Food type challenge, if you finished 12 pounds of Vietnamese noodle soup, pho, you would collect the progressive jackpot which was up to $1,500. I actually became the first person — the only person — to finish that challenge, collect the jackpot and the restaurant put me on a billboard right off the Las Vegas Strip. So I started getting all this unexpected and unwanted attention and requests to do more challenges and compete against other people. But I’m really glad it all happened because shortly after I was eating with professionals and doing pretty well, and I got to meet the love of my life.

Tell me about how you guys met.

Wehry: We actually met at the gym on July 4 in the hotel where [Nathan’s] put us up. And we didn’t really stay in touch. Then I recruited her for a team of 10 people in November that year to eat a 107 pound burger in Clinton, New Jersey. I told people, ‘She’s not going to talk to me.’ Fortunately for me, she did. And she was wooed by my pretzel-eating ability at the Malted Barley Pretzel Eating Championship, I suppose. And fast forward, now we’re expecting our first child.

Sudo: We lived on opposite ends of the country. So we really hadn’t crossed paths. And I just think of that the 107 pound burger. Now looking back, that was a really, really elaborate and complicated way to get me to go on a first date with him. He probably could have just said, ‘Hey, you want to go eat some burgers?‘ And I would have said yes.

In 2019, we actually ended up competing, really, for the first time ever against each other. We were really, really close. Now we’re ranked five and six. But, I mean, there would be weeks where I would beat him by half a street taco. The following week, he would beat me by half a bratwurst. And then we were just placing so close that it was a fun competition that kept snowballing. So it’s just a really weird love story. I think Nick just kind of looked at me and said, ‘you know, what, if I can’t beat her, I guess I’m going to join her.’

Do you guys have favorite foods when it comes to competitive eating?

Wehry: Hot dogs will always hold a special place in our heart. But wings and ribs, those are the ones we love to do. One, they’re really fun contests, because you’re not going to fill up, so it’s really anybody’s game. And two, you’re only gonna eat so much and get to still enjoy the city you’re in without walking around with, let’s say, 20 pounds of poutine in your stomach.

A few months ago in Vegas, I won the hard boiled egg eating championship. After eating 50 hard boiled eggs in three minutes, I got down on one knee and proposed. So those will always hold a special place in my heart.

Oh my gosh, that is weirdly very romantic.

It was either super romantic, or the worst idea ever. Luckily, it worked out.

Why did you guys move to Tampa, especially now that you’re starting a family together?

Wehry: Tampa is great. There’s a variety of cultures and the food variety and everything. And I had an awesome job opportunity, I now actually run the Todd Couples Superstore in Port Richey. I’m the general manager over there, so I work for some awesome people, and a great team. So between job opportunity, climates, proximity to a lot of different things, Tampa is just a great place to be for us.

Sudo: I recently decided to go back to school to get my second degree. I’m fulfilling prerequisites right now, but next year, I’ll be applying to dental hygiene programs.

As far as the the food scene goes in Florida, are there any notable challenges or competitions locally that people might be interested in hearing about?

Wehry: There’s a burger challenge that I did at the International Mall that’s a really good one for beginners. It’s probably only about a five pound total challenge. There’s Madison Avenue Pizza that we did over in Dunedin that was very enjoyable. There’s Smokin’ J’s BBQ, about a nine pound barbecue sandwich over there near St. Pete. {It’s actually in Gulfport.}

We’re kind of waiting to see now that everything’s normalizing how, how contests come about. But usually there’s a Nathan’s qualifier around the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area. And then there’s a few of like the Hooters wing eating contest around Orlando, or around Clearwater.

To watch

The 2021 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place Sunday at Maimonides Park on Coney Island. Coverage of the women’s event kicks off at 11:30 a.m., with the men’s contest starting at noon. Watch on ESPN or ESPN3, or live stream on ESPN+ or fuboTV.