Inside the World of Competitive Eating - Interview with Record-Breaker Sonya Thomas!

For those who don't already know - the popularity of eating contests and competitions has been snowballing for years! It's now an international 'sport' with hundreds of contests held worldwide every year! We wanted to get you the low-down on this weird and wonderful world - that's why we caught up with one of the world's top competitive eaters - Sonya 'The Black Widow' Thomas!

Lomograph by lomogirl

How did you become a competitive eater?

In 2001, I watched Takeru Kobayashi on TV, eating hot dogs at the annual Fourth of July eating contest at Nathan’s in Coney Island. As I was watching, I thought to myself, “I think I can do that!” Well, my friends just laughed. But, I really thought I’d be good at competitive eating. So one day in 2003, I heard they were having a qualifier contest for Nathan’s at the Molly Pitcher Rest Stop on the New Jersey Turnpike and thought “what the heck, I’ll give it a try.” When I showed up, the announcer guys who wear those straw boater hats, kind of laughed at me when he saw my size — 5’5’’, 100 lbs. So, they put me at the end of the table away from the cameras and reporters, with the big guys all in the middle of the table. When the contest began the announcer started reading off the totals from the big guys in the middle of the table. “And this guy’s eaten six hot dogs, and this other guy’s eaten eight,” etc. Then someone whispered into the ear of the announcer. “Hey, wait a minute folks,” the announcer said. “This tiny woman at the end of the table HAS EATEN 15!” Later someone told me the camera guys with the camera on their tripods began hopping down to the end of the table where I was eating. By the end of the contest I had eaten 18 hot dogs and had qualified for the Nathan’s contest on July Fourth in New York. The announcer guys in the straw hats turned out to be George and Richard Shea of the International Federation of Competitive Eating and they immediately signed me onto a contract with the organization.

Lomograph by anarchy

After the contest, reporters and everyone were talking about how this little women killed all these big guys at an eating contest and they began comparing me to a Black Widow spider and the name stuck. Since then I have eaten at hundreds of contests, participated in events and interviews all over the world, established over 39 world records, and have had a great time doing it!

What was your most impressive victory and what did you have to eat?

There are three events that come to mind:

Several years ago they had asked me to do an eating demonstration at one of those music festivals. They wanted to see how many hard boiled eggs I could eat in 10 minutes (a la Cool Hand Luke). The previous record was 38 eggs in 10 minutes and the festival sponsors bought 65 eggs. When I got there, there were thousands and thousands of screaming rock fans and they kind of laughed when I walked on stage when they saw how small I was. But when I began eating they went quiet — kind of in awe of how fast I could eat. But with every egg I ate, the crowd roar grew louder and louder until they were in a frenzy. Cheering me on and yelling, “SONYA! SONYA! SONYA!” After 6 minutes and 40 seconds I had eaten all 65 eggs. It was the only time a sponsor actually ran out of the food I was eating. And with eating records usually being 6 or 10 minutes, I am the only competitive eater to have an eating record of 6 minutes and 40 seconds they didn’t have any more food to eat.

Oysters was another fun record. I ate 46 dozen oysters in 10 minutes. After the contest, someone had said the overall record was 50 dozen oysters, and it took that guy four hours to establish that record. The contest sponsors wanted to know if I wanted to try to beat the overall record, and I wound up beating the two hour record with 52 dozen oysters in about 14 minutes.

Most recently, I beat the best and number-one eater in the world, Joey Chestnut, at the Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, New York. I ate 181 wings in 12 minutes – a new world record. I’m pretty proud of that.

How do you like to keep fit and what do you eat on a normal day?

As a manager in the fast food industry, I am on my feet all the time and I love to keep busy. At home I like to run on the treadmill for hours. Besides the food I eat at contests, I don’t eat like that all the time. I eat pretty normal healthy meals — a lot of rice, fish, vegetables, and fruit.

How long do you want to keep competitive eating?

As long as I keep on having fun. I’ve been blessed to have some of the best fans in the world and I want to keep on making them happy and proud of me.

I love seafood and I also happen to be pretty good at eating it. I have the lobster record, fried shrimp, oysters, clams, catfish, crawfish, etc. But lately, I’ve had these incredible cravings for crunchy chicken tacos.

Deliciously yours,

Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas

What’s your all-time favorite meal – if you had to choose just one? Leave your comments here! And to know more about Sonya and her delectable appetite, you can go visit this link

written by devoncaulfield on 2010-12-10 in #lifestyle #record-breaking #sonya-thomas #eating

More Interesting Articles

  • Lomography and Suck UK Springtime Giveaway Winner Announcement

    written by jillytanrad on 2014-04-02 in #competitions
    Lomography and Suck UK Springtime Giveaway Winner Announcement

    Just last month, Lomography, in cooperation with online gift store Suck UK, held a competition in search for the best springtime photos. The judges have cast their decision, and we are happy to announce the contest's winners.

    6
  • Lomoamigos: Moones

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-07-18 in #people #lomoamigos
    Lomoamigos: Moones

    Moones are a three piece UK based band making waves in the music world. The keyboard player happens to be the brother of Natasha Khan, better known as Bat For Lashes. We gave them a La Sardina camera and caught up with them for a chat. Read on for the full interview.

  • Football Photography on a New Level: Petzval on the Field

    written by zonderbar on 2014-11-10 in #lifestyle
    Football Photography on a New Level: Petzval on the Field

    We first came across Ryu Voelkel while he was shooting for his photography book about the World Cup in Brazil. His use of Aerochrome Film for the project especially caught our attention. Now the Berlin-based sports photographer has finished his book and is ready for the next challenge: testing the Petzval at a football match.

    2
  • Shop News

    Sit, Stash & Fold

    Sit, Stash & Fold

    Get both appealing LomoDices for your home! These cardboard cubes can be used for different things – they make great, stylish seats but you can also stash small items inside and fold them for storing!

  • Workshop Wild with the Fisheye and La Sardina

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-08-15 in #lifestyle
    Workshop Wild with the Fisheye and La Sardina

    Lomography UK held Fisheye and La Sardina workshops for the Wilderness Festival this year and we now have the photos back from all the participants. There were hundreds of amazing shots but we have narrowed them down to the best ones.

  • Photographer Gilbert Blecken Captures Iconic Musicians on Film

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-03-02 in #people #lifestyle
    Photographer Gilbert Blecken Captures Iconic Musicians on Film

    Back in the 1990s, Gilbert Blecken was a big music fan and wrote for his own small music fanzine. He would interview bands in between sound checks and take photographs of them. He was never a professional photographer or worked for a company; he simply did it for his fanzine. Twenty years on, Gilbert’s photographs have matured into an amazing documentation of some of the biggest music icons of that era. We caught up with Gilbert to ask him about these photographs and the fascinating story behind them.

    10
  • Workshop: Get Ready for Pinhole Day!

    written by lomographynyc on 2014-03-31 in #events
    Workshop: Get Ready for Pinhole Day!

    April 27th is World Wide Pinhole Day! This is definitely one of our favorite holidays and we will be celebrating this year with a super informative workshop. We will teach you everything you’ll need to know to take a fantastic pinhole photograph during the upcoming holiday.

  • Shop News

    Wear lomo-love on your skin

    Wear lomo-love on your skin

    You’ve shouted your analogue love from the rooftops and worn your heart on your sleeve – Now it’s time to take it to the next level and wear it on your skin! Our new Lomography Tattoos are fun, easy to apply and come in five designs.

  • Competition: Lomography x The Staves

    written by lomographyfrance on 2015-02-24 in #world #competitions
    Competition: Lomography x The Staves

    Do you know the folk rock trio The Staves? You will undoubtedly love them with this competition! On the occassion of their upcoming release of their new album "If I was" on 23rd March, we offer tickets for their concerts, vinyl records and Lomography cameras!

    2
  • Catching up with Keith Vaz from Tropics

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-07-25 in #people #lomoamigos
    Catching up with Keith Vaz from Tropics

    Earlier this year we crowned Keith Vaz of Tropics a Lomoamigo. We gave him a La Sardina to document his travels. Since then he has become a film photography fanatic and has been snapping his adventures around the world. We caught up with him to see what he has been up to.

  • Catching Waves with Lomo Cameras and Bastien Bonnarme

    written by lomographyfrance on 2014-07-21 in #people #lomoamigos
    Catching Waves with Lomo Cameras and Bastien Bonnarme

    Only 30 years old, French photographer Bastien Bonnarme has already documented international surf events such as the Roxy ASP Women’s Longboard Competition,the Belharra Wave, and the Nixon Surf Challenge. And as if that wasn't interesting enough, Bastien is also a lomographer! We lent Bastien some of our cameras for his trip to Kamtchatka with the Nixon Surf Challenge Team, and we're thrilled to finally showcase what he brought back from the great cold. Check out the photos and the exclusive interview after the jump.

  • Shop News

    Lomo Instant Boston

    Lomo Instant Boston

    Here is another way to enjoy analogue experience and capture great memories in an instant! This package includes the best creative lenses for your LomoInstant camera!

  • The Search for Analogue Stars Competition: Portraits

    written by hembot on 2014-04-04 in #competitions
    The Search for Analogue Stars Competition: Portraits

    Ready yourself for the biggest analogue photography competition of the year, starting on the biggest analogue photography day of the year! To coincide with Film Photography Day 2014 on April 12th, we are on a mission to discover the best portraits EVER shot on analogue. To be in for a chance to win a Petzval Lens and tons of other big prizes, stay with us after the jump!

    19
  • The Search for Analogue Stars Competition: Landscapes

    written by hembot on 2014-04-04 in #competitions
    The Search for Analogue Stars Competition: Landscapes

    Ready yourself for the biggest analogue photography competition of the year, starting on the biggest analogue photography day of the year! To coincide with Film Photography Day 2014 on April 12th, we are on a mission to discover the best landscapes EVER shot on analogue. To be in for a chance to win a Petzval Lens and tons of other big prizes, head past the jump!

    24
  • RYU x RIO: World Cup 2014 on Kodak Aerochrome Film

    written by zonderbar on 2014-08-11 in #news
    RYU x RIO: World Cup 2014 on Kodak Aerochrome Film

    Weeks have passed and yet Germans are still celebrating the victory of their heroic football team. Shortly before the World Cup started, we took notice of an interesting photography project on Kickstarter. Berlin-based sports photographer Ryu Voelkel called for help to create a football photography book like no other. The campaign was successfully funded. Ryu made his way to Brazil and came back with amazing shots including some very special Kodak Aerochrome photographs. Meet Ryu and learn more about him and his special moments at the WC 2014.

    1