Sonya Thomas Spills Her Guts!
She weighs less than 100 pounds but can eat more food in one sitting than just about any other human on the planet. Sonya Thomas a.k.a. The Black Widow has broken more than a dozen World Eating Records and is considered one of the world's greatest competitive eaters. So, what does it take to become a master speed-eater? Sonya Thomas spilled her guts to me about slurping down oysters, devouring cheesecakes and barfing her brains out!
Simon: So, what made you decide to start competing in eating contests?
Sonya Thomas: Well, I've always been a very competitive person, not just at eating, but at all sports. I just don't like losing. If I lose, I feel terrible. I was watching the World Hot dog Eating contest on TV in 2003 and wanted to see how I would do. So, I went to the Web site and signed up for the contest. I ate 30.5 hot dogs in 12 minutes and finished fourth in my first year and that's how I started.
Simon: That's a lot of dogs! How do you train for eating contests?
Sonya Thomas: I try to stay and shape and am always trying to stretch my stomach. I run on the treadmill for close to two hours a day and I'm a manager at Burger King and I'm always on my feet moving around. I also go to all-you-can eat buffets whenever I can, which stretches my stomach. I usually only eat one really big meal a day, as well. If I'm at work, I'll eat a Chicken Whopper, with a large fries, and a large chicken nuggets and a diet soda. And that's all I'll eat for the day.
Simon: Hmmm... I wish my parents would let me eat like that. You're a pretty small person - you weigh less than me. How do you manage to eat all that food?
Sonya Thomas: Well, the size of the person doesn't really matter in competitive eating. What's important is the size of the person's stomach. I am in good shape and have a large stomach. And because I don't have a lot of fat around my tummy, my stomach has lots of room to stretch during an eating competition.
Simon: You've set world records for eating chicken wings, cheesecake, oysters, tacos and a bunch of other stuff. What was the hardest record to set?
Sonya Thomas: Probably the cheesecake eating. I ate 11 pounds of cheesecake in nine minutes. It was hard to eat because the crust was super dry. When I finished my throat was super sore and my stomach totally hurt. I almost had to go to the emergency room. I ended up throwing it all up. That's the only time I've thrown up from eating. The record I'm most proud of is the oysters. I ate 432 of them in 10 minutes and I think I could've eaten even more.
Simon: Yikes! That's totally cool! What kinda tips would you give for a kid interested in getting into competitive eating?
Sonya Thomas: I don't think I would recommend it. Competitive eating can be very dangerous in many ways. If you try eating chicken wings, it's easy to choke on the bones. For kids, it's not such a good idea, because their bodies aren't properly developed yet. I'd wait until you reach the age of 18 to 21. But if you just want to have some fun, start out eating something softer like pie or cake that isn't so easy to choke on. And just do it once in a while. Don't try eating as much as you can every day.
Simon: What's the best thing about being one of the world's top eaters?
Sonya Thomas: Well, mostly just the recognition I get. I don't get much money for setting eating records. But it's neat that lots of people recognize me now when they see me. Probably 60% of the people out there think competitive eating and eating contests are really stupid. But eventually, I like to be thought of as an international sports star, like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan.
Sonya's next big event is Nathan's Famous Hotdog Eating Contest on July 4, 2004, when she'll be trying to defeat the reigning World Hot Dog Eating Champion, Takeru Kobayashi.