10 Things food sports

How much money do competitive eaters make? On a per-calorie basis, not a whole lot of dough

Eat This Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit
Eat This Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit

Competitive eating is not everything you may think it is.  It’s not all glory on the playing field, and unless you really want to devote your life to travelling around the country in order to eat yourself silly, there really isn’t enough money to be made in eating contests to call being a “Professional Eater” a full-time career.

One has to wonder if the lack of cost-of-living raises is one of the reasons that Takeru Kobayashi, the former World Champion Hot Dog Eater, refused to sign a contract with the IFOCE and ended up rushing the stage at this year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

And considering the amount of effort that the IFOCE and ESPN put into making the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and its world-famous Mustard Yellow Belt a cultural lynchpin in our annual July 4th festivities, it’s really surprising that the NATHAN’S CONTEST WAS NOT THE COMPETITIVE EATING CONTEST WITH THE MOST PRIZE MONEY over the past year.

So what are the TOP TEN MOST LUCRATIVE EATING CONTESTS?  Let’s take a look:

  • Isle Black Hawk Rocky Mountain Oyster Eating Contest
    1st place: $1,500
  • Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship
    1st place: $2,000
  • Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich Competition
    1st place: $2,000
  • Boneless Wing Eating Championship
    1st place: $2,000
  • Battle of the Bone (wings)
    1st place: a Harley-Davidson motorcyle
  • Kolache Factory World Kolache Eating Championship
    1st place: $4,500
  • TooJay’s World Class Corned Beef Eating Championship
    1st place: $5,000
  • La Costena “Feel the Heat” Jalapeno Eating Challenge
    1st place: $6,000
  • Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
    1st place: $10,000
  • The Krystal Square Off
    1st place: $20,000

Web Watch is sad to report that the Krystal Square Off has been cancelled for 2010, and it looks like their website has even been taken down.  Could it be that Krystal is no longer in the competitive eating business?   In their announcement, they said that “their marketing focus and efforts are better suited toward the promotion of new products”.  This may have been the last of the Square Off for a while.

So, as in competitive eating as in life: what goes down must come back up — it looks like the top 2010 prize money is going to go to Nathan’s Hot Dogs with their $10,000 prize.