Local college crowns hot dog-eating champ

The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will battle it out for the Lombardi Trophy in Sunday’s Super Bowl. But a champion already was crowned in the city Friday during the second annual Lycoming College hot dog eating competition.

“Just eat the hot dog,” said champion Calvin Lee on his strategy going into the competition.

The idea for a food-eating contest came out of the Campus Dining Committee. It was co-sponsored by Dining Services.

“We like to do different things,” said Nick Zolak, Dining Services general manager.

With the nation gearing up for competition with the Super Bowl coming up, Zolak said this was the college’s opportunity to get in on the act.

“When we talked about this the first year it was a no-brainer to have it around the Super Bowl,” Zolak said, “because of the natural competitiveness of the Super Bowl.”

Eight competitors showed up to put their stomachs to the test. Each one had 10 minutes to eat as many hot dogs bun included as they could. Participants started with a tray of 15 hot dogs and a pitcher of water; more were available if needed.

Zolak said the competition was “simple,” they just had to follow a few rules.

“Ten minutes to eat as many hotdogs as you can,” he said. “If you throw up, you’re out. If you wave your hand (to forfeit) you’re out.”

About 61 hotdogs total were eaten during Friday’s contest. Lee took the top spot by downing 11 hotdogs. But there was no touchdown dance or confetti when he took the crown. Lee simply sat back in his chair and raised his arms in victory.

“Everyone on my floor of my dorm said someone had to do it,” Lee said about why he entered the contest. “It’s kind of cool (to have won).”

Junior Ryan “Boomer” McClure, who won last year’s contest and tied for second this year with C.J. Arhontakis, said his love of eating is what originally drew him to the competition.

“I like to eat and I won last year so I wanted to defend my title,” he said.

Zolak called it an “awesome” competition.

“It’s a good-spirited competition,” he said. “All of their friends are here cheering.”

All three agreed that the buns were the hardest part of the competition. They added that the final minute, the many hot dogs’ began to take their toll.

“It was rough,” Lee said.

McClure added that he hadn’t eaten a hot dog since last year’s competition. When asked when he would eat a hot dog again, Lee answered: “Not for a while.”

Arhontakis, who tied with McClure with 10.5 hotdogs eaten, said after participating in last year’s competition he wasn’t going to enter this year’s but ultimately decided to enter after his peers asked him.

“It’s something to check off the bucket list,” he said.

The top three competitors won gift cards for campus dining.

Lee’s reign as champion of the contest gives him the opportunity to choose what food is eaten during next year’s competition – a new wrinkle in this year’s contest.

“Their winning legacy gets to live on,” Zolak said.