Rookie eater triumphs in hot dog contest

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By Scott Akanewich

When Alex Chapman sat down at the table to engage in his first-ever eating contest at the Liberty Hill Independence Day Spectacular, he figured he would give it a pretty good go.

But, he didn’t expect to win.

“I thought I would have two or three, be full, stop and just enjoy the free meal,” said Chapman, a Cedar Park resident of 11 years who is planning a move to Liberty Hill with his family in the near future. “But, I had people cheering me on, so I kept going.”

When the clock had elapsed on the five minutes of culinary consumption, Chapman had successfully downed nine hot dogs – with the buns – to claim victory.

In fact, not only had Chapman prevailed, but in doing so, defeated defending champion 13-year-old Kolton New, who finished second with eight dogs devoured after having won the title the last time the contest was held in 2019 with a total of eight-and-a-half to his name.

The field of 12 competitors ranged in age from 10 to 65 years old, which provided Chapman, a 43-year-old father of two – with plenty of rivals. But when it was all said and done and the crumbs had settled, he had reigned supreme.

One might wonder what prompts someone to choose to undertake such an uncomfortable venture, but for Chapman, it simply seemed like a good idea, he said.

“We were looking at the event’s website to see what was going on at the celebration,” said Chapman. “The hot dog contest seemed like fun.”

Ironically enough, the featured fare isn’t even usually on his dietary menu of choice, he said.

“No, I’m not a huge hot dog fan,” said Chapman. “I much rather prefer Texas barbecue.”

Chapman said once he reached eight hot dogs, he thought he was just about done, but a surprising source of inspiration struck in the form of support from the crowd who had gathered around to witness the feast.

“I had complete strangers cheering me on,” he said. “People were chanting my name.”

Despite his status as a rookie competitive eater, Chapman did have a trick up his sleeve, which he pulled out when he needed it most, along with a set strategy he entered battle with.

“I decided to just eat all the hot dogs first, then attack the buns,” said Chapman. “Once I got to the buns, I dipped them in water, which made it much easier and I think in the end, that was the difference.”

However, victory had a price – and a very costly one at that – of the gastrointestinal variety.

“I felt like I had a lead balloon in my stomach for the next two days,” he said. “All I had to eat was a little bit of watermelon.”

Once Chapman was called up on stage to be presented with the winner’s trophy, he said he was a bit hesitant initially to fully embrace his newfound fame, which was the result of a rather gluttonous act.

“I thought to myself, ‘Is this really something I should be proud of?’” he said. “But, then I realized it was. After all, how many chances do you get to do something like this?’”

Well, Chapman will certainly have the chance again next year to return in order to defend his title and has already begun researching ways to improve his performance level.

“I’ve read many competitive eaters will drink a lot of water leading up to a contest,” said Chapman. “So, they can expand their stomach.”

However, aside from the glory of being crowned a hot dog hero, Chapman said the most enjoyable aspect of the entire experience was the fact it happened in his soon-to-be hometown.

“I think that was the best part,” he said. “I felt like I was already a part of the community.”

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