Miki Sudo loves pumpkin pie. That’s her edge. Today, she’ll get her fill of that seasonal dessert – in a big hurry. And if she’s hungry enough, Sudo could take home a hefty paycheck. All she has to do is gobble more pie in eight minutes than any of her adversaries – including world champion eater Joey Chestnut.
Sudo will be among the top pros in the first Elk Grove World Pumpkin Pie Eating Championship, part of this weekend’s 20th annual Giant Pumpkin Festival. The top six eaters will split a $5,000 purse, with $2,500 to the winner. Also competing will be Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis and Rich Lozano, board president of the Cosumnes Community Services District, which puts on this huge pumpkin party.
Sudo, 29, is used to pressure while stuffing her face in public. She’s the world’s top female competitive eater and No. 4 overall among the co-ed ranks of Major League Eating. At 5-foot-7 and 125 pounds, the Las Vegas woman ate 34 hot dogs and buns to win the women’s division of the 2014 Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest, the Super Bowl of chowing down. That upset ended Sonya Thomas’ 11-year reign.
But her menu goes way beyond hot dogs. While competing around the world, Sudo has taken down 104 hard-boiled eggs in eight minutes in Kentucky, 145 oysters in three minutes in Northern Ireland and 199 gyoza (Japanese dumplings) in 10 minutes in Los Angeles. Last spring, she inhaled 7.25 pounds of deep-fried asparagus in 10 minutes at Stockton’s Asparagus Festival.
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“Actually, I’ve done very few sweet items (in contests),” Sudo said. “The exceptions are ice cream (13.5 pints of vanilla in six minutes) and Twinkies (71 in six minutes), but most of the contests are savory. I don’t have a strategy for pies down yet.”
Sudo, a former event planner, got her start as a world-class eater by chance. We caught up with Sudo between bites:
How did you become a competitive eater?
On a dare (three years ago), I ate a 12-pound bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup at a (Las Vegas) restaurant. If you finished it, you won a jackpot. If you didn’t, you had to pay $50 – and I wasn’t going to pay $50. I became the first and only person to collect that ($1,510) jackpot. I then tried other challenges (like 8 pounds of ramen). Finally, I got up the nerve to compete head to head vs. other eaters. I discovered I was pretty good at eating. Now, I’m eating, traveling, meeting cool people. I can’t imagine life without it.
What’s your secret to success?
I’m a naturally competitive person. You need the desire and determination. It’s about having a good time and enjoying yourself.
You’re so slim, how do you stay that way while consuming so many calories?
I’m in the gym five days a week. I train a lot; this is work. I’m also blessed with a high metabolism.
Do you purge after an eating contest?
No, I keep it down. I’ve been lucky enough when I’ve been on stage, I’ve never up-chucked. I came close. Once, I ate 17 and a half pounds of chili in a six-minute event. I had to stop at 4 and a half minutes because I knew I was going to lose it if I took another bite.
Do you have a game plan for the pie contest?
Take large bites, then wash them down with liquid. I’m not sure what I’ll drink yet, but I’m leaning towards milk.
World’s top-ranked female competitive eater
Sudo, along with Joey Chestnut and other Major League Eating stars, will take part in Elk Grove’s World Pumpkin Pie Eating Championship at 1:30 p.m. today at Elk Grove Regional Park. The contest will be held on the Jungle Stage. Admission is free.