Wolf Files: Too Fat to Eat Fast?

Competitive Eating May Be a Sport for the Thin

Even though you shouldn't judge athletes by their physical appearance, some people still say, "White guys can't jump." If that's true, we might soon be saying, "Fat guys can't eat."

Look at some of today's top competitive eaters. Lightweights are beating heavyweights at what was once thought to be their own gluttonous game.

Takeru Kobayashi of Japan — famous for devouring 50 ½ franks in 12 minutes — weighs just 144 pounds, less than half as much as many of his rivals.

In 2002, when this diminutive man set that amazing mark, he more than doubled the previous world's record, and is now widely regarded as the Michael Jordan of eating events.

Now, on the Fourth of July, Kobayashi must once again defend his title at the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at New York's Coney Island.

If you doubt that competitive eating is the newest American sport, consider that it will be broadcast live on ESPN with additional play-by-play over ABC Radio and yours truly will be on the scene to provide insight into the world's biggest food fight.

This year, Kobayashi's biggest rival might be the only competitor who's even smaller than he is.

Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas of Alexandria, Va., is the hottest newcomer on the competitive eating circuit and weighs just 105 pounds. The petite 36-year-old dynamo set nine world's records last year, devouring everything from fried asparagus spears (5.75 pounds in 10 minutes) to cheesecake (11 pounds in nine minutes).

Last year, she had a surprisingly strong showing at the Nathan's hot dog contest. Now, she returns as the sport's newest diva.

In one of her greatest victories, Thomas smashed the hard-boiled egg record by downing 65 eggs in six minutes and 40 seconds — and Thomas claims she could have doubled the previous high (39), if only shell-shocked race officials hadn't run out of eggs.

"I never get fat. I just eat one meal a day, no candy, and I run four times a week on a treadmill," says Thomas.

"I don't care how big the guy is, I'll out-eat him. It's not about size. It's about competition. I want to be the hot dog champ."