Is it a sport? Is it a spectator event? Is it just plain entertainment? No matter what your take on it, it’s up and running again. Registration opened today for the ninth annual World Tamale Eating Championship scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28, during the Western Days festival in Old Town Lewisville, Texas.
The event, organized by the Lewisville Convention and Visitors Bureau and officially sanctioned by Major League Eating (MLE), will pay a total purse of $3,500 to the top six finishers. The contest will start at 1:15 p.m. on the front steps of Lewisville City Hall, 151 W. Church Street. Registration is being conducted online at www.ifoce.com.
The current world record is held by Joey “Jaws” Chestnut of San Jose, Calif. Chestnut, the top-ranked eater in Major League Eating, captured the 2012 title in Lewisville by downing 102 tamales in 12 minutes. He unseated four-time winner and previous record-holder Tim “Eater X” Janus of New York City.
The inaugural World Tamale Eating Championship was held during the Bassmaster Elite 50 Country Fair at Lewisville Lake in June 2005 and was won by Levi Oliver of Austin, who established a world record by eating 36 tamales in 10 minutes, 30 seconds. He remains the only Texan to win the world title in tamales.
Oliver’s record was beaten in May of the following year in Houston by Chip “Burger” Simpson of Pennsylvania before being broken by Janus in Lewisville in 2006 and again in 2007. The 2008 championship was won by Patrick Vandam of Minnesota, that season’s “Rookie of the Year” honoree. The 2009 event saw Juliet Lee of Germantown, Maryland, eat 48 tamales in 12 minutes to become the first female champion.
In 2010, Janus returned after a two-year absence to reclaim his crown by eating 59 tamales in 12 minutes, edging out fellow world-class eater Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas by just three tamales. He again won the competition in 2011, falling just short of his own world record by eating 67 tamales, 11 better than runner-up Matt Stonie.
The 2012 contest featured a showdown between tamale veteran Janus and the world’s most-feared competitive eater, Chestnut, himself a former holder of the world record for tamales. Despite making his first-ever appearance at the World Tamale Eating Championship, Chestnut cruised past Janus by 15 tamales and established a new world record. Janus’ second-place total of 87 bettered his previous world record and stands as the second-highest total ever.
MLE is the governing body of all stomach-centric sports, conducting more than 70 events annually including the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, N.Y. The competitive eating community, which numbers more than 3,000 veteran and rookie athletes, travels the nation in search of top titles and the glory that they provide.
The world Tamale Eating Championship is part of a full two-day schedule of activities planned for Western Days 2013, designed to showcase Lewisville’s rich history. Other offerings include the best of Texas country music and local performers on three live stages, arts and crafts vendors, gunfight re-enactments, trick ropers, cooking and grilling demonstrations, craft beer tasting, car show, boat show, children’s fishing area, a stickhorse rodeo for kids, a 5K race and one-mile fun run, and a special exhibit of Western artifacts at the MCL Grand.
The festival is free, but a ticket is required. Free tickets will be available starting Sept. 9 at the festival website, www.LewisvilleWesternDays.com, and through entertainment sponsor 99.5 The Wolf. Festival schedule is 7-11:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, and 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. Main stage headliners will be announced later this week.
Sponsors for Western Days 2013 include City of Lewisville, Lewisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, First Choice Power, Castle Hills, Denton County Transportation Authority, Huffines Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Market Street, Hampton Inn & Suites, The Apparel Group, JP Morgan Chase, Orthofix, Blue Lynx Media, Armfield, Bud Light and 99.5 The Wolf. Community supporters include Old Town Business Association, Old Town Preservation Society, Lewisville Morning Rotary Club, Greater Lewisville Kiwanis Club and Masonic Lodge #201.
For the latest information on Western Days 2013, visit www.LewisvilleWesternDays.com or call 972.219.3401.
Past Champions – World Tamale Eating Championship
2005 – Levi Oliver, Austin, TX
2006 – Tim “Eater X” Janus, New York City, NY
2007 – Tim “Eater X” Janus, New York City, NY
2008 – Patrick Vandam, Eagan, MN
2009 – Juliet Lee, Germantown, MD
2010 – Tim “Eater X” Janus, New York City, NY
2011 – Tim “Eater X” Janus, New York City, NY
2012 – Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, San Jose, Calif.
Progression of tamale-eating World Record
June 2005 – Levi Oliver (36 tamales, 10 minutes and 30 seconds)
May 2006 – Chip Simpson (41 tamales, 12 minutes)
September 2006 – Tim “Eater X” Janus (51 tamales, 12 minutes)
May 2007 – Joey Chestnut (53 ½ tamales, 12 minutes)