Two-time winner of Md. cheesesteak eating contest shares his secret to success

Brew Belly cheesesteak eating competition benefits dog rescue

New York’s Coney Island may have its famed hot dog eating contest, but in Olney, Maryland, it’s all about downing cheesesteaks on the Fourth of July.

Brew Belly hosted its third annual cheesesteak eating contest Thursday where participants competed to win free cheesesteaks from the restaurant for a year.

The event also raised money for Montgomery County nonprofit dog shelter Knine Rescue.

“Dogs and cheesesteaks. I mean, there’s not a lot of things that are more American than that,” said Brew Belly owner Dave Calkins. “I’m a dog lover myself.”

Some competitors showed up with hopes of beating John Collins, of Derwood, who won last year’s competition. But Collins prevailed, bringing home the victory as he finished two cheesesteaks in two minutes and 29 seconds.

“I came in here fully prepared just to do my best … and ended up that my best was good enough for today,” Collins said, adding that his secret to success was being slow and steady “just like the turtle, plowing through them.”

“I was always a fast eater, So that’s what’s helped,” he said.

One of his competitors, Ken Sonnenberg, of Olney, said that it would be the last year he takes part in the contest.

“I’d rather just sit there and enjoy it slowly at a leisurely pace,” Sonnenberg said.

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Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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