[Digest] How do they do that?

Competitive eaters chew through Vegas

Julie Seabaugh

The real question at Spike TV and Major League Eating’s Chicken Wing Chowdown competition—held October 9 at Fremont Street Experience—wasn’t who won (that’d be 22-year-old Pat Bertoletti, who stripped more meat from bone in eight minutes than No. 1-ranked Joey Chestnut and No. 2-ranked Takeru Kobayashi); it was “How the hot sauce do they do that?”

“There are techniques that have been developed that are considered to be innovations, one of which is called the meat umbrella, where you put the chicken wing in your mouth, close your mouth and then strip it so the meat comes up into your mouth like an umbrella,” the straw-hatted announcer told the gathered crowd, while 62-year-old Henderson resident Rich “The Locust” LeFevre (No. 8) offered the following insight:

• State of mind: “You have to be very competitive, very focused and determined. You really have to want it.”

• State of body: “For an eight-minute contest, there’s not a problem. I’m not going to get filled up in eight minutes. You have plenty of room afterwards. The problem is you’ve got to drink a lot of water to get it down. And then afterward it settles and you feel fine. I take my powders: flaxseed, wheat germ, things like that, and oatmeal at night, and that helps. It’s important to be physically fit. If you’re out of shape, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to do this.”

• The right training facilities: “The Spice Market buffet at Planet Hollywood, formerly the Aladdin. I love that one. They have real good deep-fried prawns, and they have tenderloin beef and all kinds of seafood like shrimp. I also like the Mirage.”

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