WASHINGTON — It’s an annual reason to question just how much a person can eat on a holiday weekend.
With an ambulance waiting nearby, dozens crowded Wisconsin Avenue in front of Z-Burger’s Tenleytown location to witness the restaurant’s Independence Day burger-eating championship.
Returning champ and mother of four Molly Schuyler did not disappoint, managing to down 21 burgers in 10 minutes.
“I was sluggish this year. Last year I ate 28! That says something,” she said.
But there was a change she wasn’t aware of that made things a bit harder this year than in the past eight.
“This year we made the burgers a bit bigger. [We] tried to see if she could beat her record but she didn’t,” said restaurant owner Peter Tabibian, who offered spectators — and competitors who wanted them — free burgers for an hour after the contest ended.
Schuyler only got into competitive eating a few years ago.
“Someone said I couldn’t eat a 5-pound hamburger and I just did it for the heck of it. And I found I could make more money doing that than an actual job. So, I guess, I decided to do this,” she said.
She plans to use her $4,000 prize to pay her bills and feed her kids, whom she doesn’t plan to train to eat competitively.
“Yes! That’s what I like … that a woman won,” said D.C. paralegal and competitor Quanique Beasley, who sat across the table from Schuyler, and admitted she had no idea whom she was up against.
“She just told me she’s not full. She’s hungry again. I said, ‘Me too. But you ate 21 and I only ate four,'” she laughed after the contest ended.
With the nickname “the garbage disposal,” Beasley thought she’d be able to hold her own in the eating contest — but she said the difficulty eating the buns coupled with the fact the burgers are not dressed with anything made the contest slow-going.
Rooting on the 13 competitors, D.C. resident Tim Fitzgerald said he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“In the heat, it’s incredible how quickly they ate these burgers, and the woman who won is remarkable,” he said.
What’s even more remarkable — Schuyler asked for a double chocolate milkshake only a few minutes after winning the eating contest.