Monday, May 19, 2008

MLE - Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship

MLE - Major League Eating logoThis past Saturday, The Blot headed to a local Greek festival to watch my very first Major League Eating “sporting” event. The MLE is “the world governing body of all stomach-centric sports,” which sprung out of the popularity of Nathan’s Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest that has occurred yearly at Coney Island, NY since 1916. (link) This past weekend was the Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship, hosted by local Greek restaurant Niko Niko's and run in conjunction with the MLE and the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE).

Niko Niko's World Gyro Eating Championship logoIf you’ve never seen a competitive eating event then you’re really missing out on a very unique experience. I’ve watched the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest for the past few years on ESPN, and when I heard there was going to be an MLE event in Houston I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in competitive eating do what they do best, eat. Along with a slew of local amateur hopeful world record setters, the MLE brought in three of the league’s top rated athletes, including the number 1 ranked competitive eater in the world and reigning Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest champion, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut.

Joey Chestnut and Patrick Bertoletti preparing for the Niko Niko's World Gyro Eating ChampionshipChestnut set a Nathan’s Famous Record and a World Record last July by eating 66 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and Buns in 12 minutes, narrowly edging out the living legend and champion hot dog eater 6 years straight Takeru Kobayashi. Also competing in the Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship was the number 2 ranked competitive eater Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, a chef from Chicago who holds multiple records in competitive eating, and fifth ranked “Humble” Bob Shoudt, who despite being a vegetarian was ready to devour the many meaty gyros put before him.

Joey Chestnut, Bob Shoudt, Dimitri Fetokakis and Pat Bertoletti posing for pictures after the eventThe timed event gave competitors 10 minutes to consume as many 12 ounce gyro sandwiches (pitas stuffed with rotisserie meat, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce) as they could, without regurgitation, and awarded $4,000 in prize money to the top 4 finishers. To say the event wasn’t for the squeamish is putting it lightly. With tzatziki sauce flying and gyro meat being devoured at a record pace, the Gyro Eating World Record set that day was sure to be a statistic that would stand for a very long time. After time expired and the dust had settled, the unbelievable occurred in Houston, TX, the great Joey Chestnut had fallen.

Dimitri Fetokakis, owner of Niko Niko's, awarding Patrick Bertoletti the Gyro Eating Championship BeltAfter the official results were tallied, it was determined that Pat Bertoletti had consumed 12 Gyros (9 lbs. of food) and was awarded the Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship Belt, $2,000 in prize money, and the official World Record of Gyro Eating. (link) Chestnut came in second place with 11 gyros (8.25 lbs. of food) and earned $1,000. Humble Bob ate 9.5 gyros for third place and won $700, while Nasty Nate the Newcomer ate 6 gyros for fourth place and earned $300.

All in all, the event seemed a huge success and was quite an experience. I had definitely never seen such amazing feats of gastric supremacy and am looking forward to my next MLE event. Hopefully I won’t have to wait until next year’s Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship to see such hardcore competition. If you’d like to see more of the Gyro Eating Championship, check out my pics from the event below.

The 2008 Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship
The 2008 Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship
The 2008 Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship
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