Imagine eating dozens of burgers in the sweltering heat for a cash prize.
It happens every year in the District, and on Friday nine contestants gathered in front of Z-Burger in D.C.’s Tenleytown neighborhood to see who could scarf down the most burgers in 10 minutes — and keep them down for a full two minutes immediately after the contest.
Thirty-seven was the magic number this year. That’s how many burgers Molly Schuyler scarfed down to claim first place in the 13th annual Independence Burger Eating Championship and a $2,000 prize. The 42-year old from Harwood, Maryland, now has eight trophies from Z-Burger.
Dan “Killer” Kennedy, of West Decatur, Pennsylvania, was one short, with 36 burgers. He took home a $1,250 prize.
“We tied last year, actually,” Schuyler said. “He’s always on my heels; he’s my best friend, and, you know … if he wins, good. If I win, that’s cool too.”
Canada’s highest-ranked competitive eater, Joel Hansen, rounded out the top three by finishing 26 burgers in his first Z-Burger contest. He took home $1,000.
Schuyler said she participates in roughly six competitive eating contests each year. When asked whether she’s ever lost her food during such a competition, she said, “No, and I really hope not to.”
Z-Burger owner Peter Tabibian said he’s adding new and exciting elements for both the spectators and the participants. They boosted prize money for the 2022 contest, and also featured a live performance by the Crush Funk Brass Band.
“We’re almost as big as Nathan’s,” Tabibian told WTOP. “Who wants to go to Long Island? We got the best burger-eating contest in the capital of USA.”
“I want to keep this going,” he added. “This is my favorite holiday — Fourth of July, America’s birthday. I love the U.S.A. And what better way to celebrate it with a nice old-fashioned burger-eating contest?”