Professional Pigs Gorge on Publicity

(Page 3 of 3)

Thomas, a 101-pound dynamo, is ranked only behind Kobayashi in international competitions, and holds 18 world records, including top honors for cheesecake (11 pounds in nine minutes) and hard-boiled eggs (65 in 6 minutes, 40 seconds).

Any potential advertiser could just as easily look at the No. 3-ranked eater, 62-year-old Rich "The Locust" LeFevre of Las Vegas, and see an instant hero for elder Americans. The retired accountant holds records in SPAM (six pounds in 12 minutes) and Watermelon (11.5 pounds in 15 minutes), routinely beating eaters half his age.

Moreover, LeFevre often competes with his wife, Carlene, a former makeup saleswoman who is now known as "the grand dame of gluttony" and holds the record for posole (6.8 pounds in 12 minutes).

If it's starting to occur to you that competitive eating has all the self-exploitation necessary to make a good reality TV show, you're one step behind MTV. Tim Janus, another entrant in next week's hot dog derby, is getting ready to star in "The True Life of a Competitive Eater."

The 28-year-old Manhattan bachelor was crowned the tiramisu champ in March, inhaling 2.9 pounds of cake in less than four minutes. Janus supports himself as a day trader, riding the ups and downs of the NASDAQ market.

"You need intestinal fortitude to trade equities and to eat competitively," says Janus, who trains by consuming four pounds of scrambled eggs chased by a gallon of water.

Perhaps it was apparent Janus was destined for reality TV when he studied political science at Southern Methodist University, and was famous for painting his face at basketball games to heckle the other team.

Janus will wear that face paint — inspired by pro wrestling star, the Ultimate Warrior — when he steps up to the plate at Coney Island. All that separates him from immortality is 50 hot dogs (more or less) and one enormous stomachache.

Win, lose or vomit, the prying eye of a reality TV camera will be watching.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at "The Wolf Files" is published Tuesdays.