We saw local Phoenician, Jeff “The Beast Man” Butler, at this year’s Wingstock event in Mesa where he completely destroyed the competition by eating over two pounds worth of wings. Shortly after that he made the jump from amateur eater to professional competitive eater. He recently competed in the 2013 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest where he placed sixth with an incredible 31 hot dogs eaten in 10 minutes. We spoke with him to learn a little more about him and what it takes to be a professional eater.
We saw you dominate in the wing eating competition at this year’s Wingstock. You were still an amateur competitive eater at this point, right?
Yes, I was still an amateur eater. Wingstock was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to go next year. Unfortunately, I can’t compete next season in the Wingstock wing eating contest because of my current professional contract. I will still show up to eat some tasty wings and hear some music.
After that event, what did it take to make the jump to professional competitive eater?
I always watched the Nathans Hot Dog Eating Competition on ESPN. When I found out the professional eating league, Major League Eating, was having a qualifier for Nathans Hot Dog Eating Competition in Las Vegas I entered the competition to get a chance to eat against Joey Chestnut and the best eaters in the world. At the qualifier in Vegas, I was a non-professional and beat all the Professional Male Eaters and a few select amateurs who were signed with MLE by eating 31 and a half hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. After the contest the MLE president Sam Barclay signed me to a professional eating contract.
What made you decide to get into the world of competitive eating?
My huge appetite and competitive nature. I think for most competitive eaters we just stumble upon it. It starts off with just loving to eat and no restaurant being able to serve you enough food to get full so you start doing the Man vs Food style eating challenges in local cafes and restaurants. In most those challenges they give you 20 – 30 minutes to complete the challenge. I would always be able to demolish the restaurants’ challenge in under 5 minutes. From the restaurant challenges eaters start doing local competitions on the weekend and then your sucked into the world of a competitive eating.
How do you train for competitive eating?
I actually don’t train much. For hot dog competitions I may do a practice run in my kitchen a week before a contest or if it is a food I’m unfamiliar with I may do a short training to get used to the flavors , textures and examine the quickest way to eat the food.
What is your favorite thing to eat in an eating contest?
I don’t discriminate. I love spicy food because it keeps my mouth interested. If I has to pick one it would probably be wings.
What is the hardest thing to eat in an eating contest?
Hot dogs because they challenge your capacity and speed but requires you to have a solid technique down pat or foods that are just super dry and the contest rules don’t let you dunk the food in water to make it moist.
Is there anything you just wouldn’t eat in an eating contest?
I’M THE BEAST! Nothing is above getting eaten.
What is the craziest thing you have ever eaten in a contest?
I’ve only been competitive eating since December so I know there is more crazy food eating in my future but I would have to say whole uncut California Sushi rolls. I ate 28 burrito sized sushi rolls in 8 minutes. People always ask me did you feel sick after eating all that sushi. I never get sick after a contest.
What is your favorite part about being a competitive eater?
Traveling to different cities and hanging out with other competitive eaters from across the nation and have the same food quirks as you is fun. You get to eat a lot of food for free and get tickets to events. Most competitive eaters have day jobs and use eating in competitions as a mini vacation to visit new cities and have fun.
What do you like to eat when you aren’t training or in a contest?
I actually eat very healthy. I’m not a salad eating kind of guy but I love grilled meat. Vegetables, popcorn, fruit, frozen yogurt. A typical dinner for me consists of a couple pieces of meat, Pinto beans with a little rice and another vegetable with something cold for dessert like cold peaches, pineapple chunks, or low-fat ice cream.
What tips would you have for someone who wanted to get into competitive eating? Would you recommend it?
Start off with restaurant challenges and see how well you do with those. These will gauge your stomach capacity and allow you to work on your tempo when eating within a time limit.
We have to ask: What is your favorite place in Phoenix to get hot wings? Know any great spots we might not have heard about?
Wongs on 7st and Southern next to South Mountain High School is the best wings I’ve had. Wongs is kinda in the hood but don’t let it stop you from ordering wings there. They are whole wings and are fried in tempura batter. The wings are crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside every time they have no sauce but they are so good they don’t need any. I also like ATL’s Lemon Pepper Wings.Tags: hot wings, interview, Mesa, nathan's hot dog eating contest, professional eater, wing event, Wingstock
This post was written by Tyler