2005 US Open of Competitive Eating
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Anyone hungry? Sixteen competitive eaters go head to head and stomach to stomach until there's only one left.

Recaps by Gordon Pepper, GSNN

George Shea
Packager: ESPN Original Entertainment
Airs: Mondays at 2:30pm ET on ESPN2

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"Round of 32" - August 1

We're all fascinated with Takeru Kobayashi when we went on Man Vs. Beast. We were all fascinated when he won the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating competition for 5 straight years. So seriously, could this be too far behind?

We are talking about the 2005 Alka-Seltzer U.S. Open of Competitive Eating. 32 people will be going mano a mano in a bracket-style tournament. The prize? Money, of course, and the thrill of beating out the field of America's best eaters, and a chance of derailing Kobayashi.

Here are the rules for the event - there are 5 rounds. Each round has a different food (for example, Cheese Fries in Round 1). The objective is too eat more of it than your opponent. You can't immerse your food in any liquid and a 'Reversal of Fortune' (aka El Barfo) is an immediate disqualification.

George Shea, of Great American Events (the people who set up this tournament) will be going over the items for each round. Round one is, as was mentioned earlier, the cheese fries. Round 2 is Pasta Marinara. Round 3 is Italian Salad. Round 4 is Potato Skins and Round 5 is the ESPN Zone's Sampler, with enough food to satisfy a party of 4.

Here are some of the people to be watching -

Kobayashi - The man, the myth, the human garbage disposal.

Sonya Thomas - She finished second to Kobayashi as the hot dog eating contest.

But first, we'll see the 8th ranked Joey Chestnut (who finished in third and is the world asparagus eating champion) as he starts us off against Sam Vise, who has eaten 34 Krystal Hamburgers in 8 minutes. This is around as gross as you can imaging two grown men stuffing a mass of cheese and potatoes in your mouth. Both Vise and Chestnut exchange plates and Vise is starting to get a huge lead. Chestnut, seeing that Vise is in the lead, is panicking and starts to stuff the fries in his mouth. That's not going to do it and the 25th ranked Vise has the first upset of the day. How did Vise do it? 'I just smashed them up and ate 'em.' Spoken like a true champion.

We get footage of some of the pairings being announced before we get to the actual pairing to show up next. That footage features Paul Hunts against Richard LeFevre, and Randy Harrison drawing Richard's wife, Carlene LeFevre. Carlene is the Pisole eating champion and can eat a gallon of chili in 10 minutes. In the first round, there is no contest. Carlene gets to her second platter and Randy never finishes his first. When the round ends, Carlene wipes her mouth and applies make-up to her frame. 3 pounds and 3 ounces worth of cheese fries is good enough for her to advance.

Next up - the Corn of the Cob eating champion Joe LaRue, who is a weightlifter and a banquet chef by trade. He insists in eating with his bare feet. Oooook. He is a monster and goes up against Frank Wach. Joe is just munching fries by the handful and he easily blitzes Wach. He may like his chances in the next round, as he will take on Vise.

He wants no part of Ed 'Cookie' Jarvis, who set a record at the Nathan's Fry Eating Championship this year - the same place where they had the hot dog eating competition. The cheese fries should be no problem for him and he goes double handed in there against Ed Taboada Jr. The cookie easily rolls into the second round.

Then we have our trash talker. Dale Boone, who has been called anything from the Jeremy Shockey of Professional Eating to an objectionable human being. Dale looks like a human pit bull as he decimates Donovan Busta. We almost get a reversal of fortune from Boone, but he recovers to win it by 2 ounces.

Leon Feingold likes to eat (he is the Corn Beef and Cabbage Champion) but he also likes too play baseball. Leon plays in the minor leagues for the Cleveland Indians, and he wants to spring the upset against ex-football player and coach Jim Reeves. Both people get a plate exchange, but it looks like Feingold had enough of an edge to spring that upset. He does, as Feingold beats Reeves by a slim 2 ounces.

But they are all out to beat Kobayashi, who says that he's getting better year after year. The numbers don't lie - Kobayashi has dominated the competition and is looking to add one more jewel to his crown.

Brian Subich is a Shoo-Fly pie eating champion. He is also a football coach and claims that eating is just as hard of an athletic contest as anything else. Brian likes to hang out with...Dale Boone. Ok, so Brian has a few screws loose. Subich gets 'Crazy Legs' Conti, a man who likes to wear a coonskin cap as he eats. It's a very close match and it comes to the scales, and like Feingold, Subich ekes out the upset by a few ounces.

Subich's opponent for the next round? It could be the third ranked Rich LeFevre. Rich has a huuuuge mouth and he finishes the first plate easily . With the match safely in hand, Rich even encourages his opponent Hall Hunt to finish his plate before time expires. Hunt does, but LeFevre wins and will get Subich, who probably didn't want to see Rich as his opponent.

Tim Janus is rookie of the year. But he will not compete as Tim Janus. Instead, this day trader likes to put on face makeup and call himself 'Eater X' and crosses his arms in an X before every competition. No, I am not making this up. His opponent is Carson Hughes, who's a collared greens specialist and is using the double handed stuff. The double handed technique doesn't work as Carson gets stuffed by Eater X, who next has to face off against Dale Boone.

We are getting an influx of athletes who want to get into eating as well. Chris Coble is a swimmer and triathlete. The problem is that he is taking on a huge monster in the form of Eric 'Badlands' Booker, the #4 seed and a worker for the Metropolitan Transit Authority in NYC. Eric admits that he hasn't been performing well, but he's looking to make up for it here. He puts on a strong start as he hits the first new plate, but Coble is right behind him and is picking up steam. Can Coble catch Booker? The winner, by less than 1 ounce, is...Booker, as he barely hangs on. Coble says that it was a great match, and he's going to try to be a force to be reckoned with next year.

We get a quick glimpse of Levi Oliver and Alan Goldstein. Oliver gets the close win, but it may not matter, as he's getting stuck with Jarvis in the next round.

We only have 2 matches left, and they both feature the top guns. First up is the #1 seed Kobayashi, who uses a fork against Scott Sayer. Sayer has no prayer against Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Champion. Kobayashi gets off 2 plates and just salutes the fans with 17 seconds to go and with Sayer still on his first plate.

The other powerhouse in this competition is Sonya Thomas, who comes to us by way of Virginia. She holds world records in 21 different categories and she is looking for another one here. Kevin Carr is going to be the poor victim as Sonya goes to town. Sonya's nickname is 'The Black Widow' and she makes Carr one of her victims.

Here are the match ups in Round 2 -

Kobayashi Vs. Donahue
R. LeFevre Vs. Subich
Jarvis Vs. Oliver
Koch Vs. C. LeFevre
Thomas Vs. Zhorlinsky
Booker Vs. Feingold
Janus Vs. Boone
LaRue Vs. Vise

Join us in 24 hours as we cut down 16 to 8.


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