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Sarah Rodriguez, a competitive eater from Naperville, finished second and set a personal record in the women’s competition in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Sunday.
Nathan congratulated Rodriguez in a post-contest tweet screaming out her feat of knocking down 24 hot dogs.
Congratulations to Sarah Rodriguez on her personal Best 24 Hot Dogs and second place!
– Nathan’s Famous (@originalnathans) July 4, 2021
Michelle Lesco took the win with 30 3/4 hot dogs, according to Nathan.
Rodriguez and her husband Juan spoke to NBC Chicago last week about preparing to eat competitively on the national stage.
“The stereotype of eaters, you know, you see us in these competitions and people say, ‘You eat like this every day, obviously all the time,'” said Sarah Rodriguez. “But that’s really not the case. The rest of the time, for example, we take care of ourselves very well.”
But preparing to eat more hot dogs in minutes than many people consume in a full year is no easy task and it actually takes strategy, the Naperville couple told NBC 5 when they met on July 4th.
The health and fitness duo, who are also competitive eaters, may compete together this weekend but don’t share the same strategies.
“Every time you do a competition there are two parts,” said Sarah Rodriguez. “One thing you need technique and, secondly, you have to have flatulence. So the tech is, do I understand how to eat a hot dog? What I know sounds like bananas and everyone is saying, ‘Yeah, you put it in your mouth’ this is how you eat ‘, but to do it quickly and safely, you have to figure out the technique. So yeah, you have to practice real runs on occasion, but the biggest part is also understanding that your stomach needs to have room to put those hot dogs down. “
How do you create this space exactly?
For Sarah Rodriguez, the process involves consuming high-volume, low-calorie foods with plenty of water on top.
“A huge salad, big bowls of cauliflower and then I put water or diet soda on it to actually press it against my stomach wall, press a little more and I weigh it. I weigh it and every time you do” I try to get a few more grams, a few more ounces to push your belly out and push out so you put more in, “she said.
But for Juan Rodriguez the strategy is different.
“I prefer to drink as much water as possible in the 10-minute period in this case to simulate the competition,” he said. “It’s called water training. A lot of us do it.”
But water isn’t his only strategy. There is also … chewing gum?
“I’m going to chew on a packet of gum,” he said. “That helps and trains my jaw strength further. Some of us like to chew ice cream. Everyone has their little thing.”
That being said, the couple said they try to stay rested and eat lightly in the days leading up to the competition.
“Sarah likes to fast the night before,” said Juan Rodriguez. “I mean, I’m not trying because if you fast too long your body is like your stomach contracts very quickly the moment you eat a hot dog. So you have to find this sweet spot. “
And ready to represent.
The Rodriguezes say they’re ready to take Chicago and Illinois on the national stage, but for Sarah Rodriguez, the competition is even more meaningful.
“I’m just trying to be a presence for the women,” she said. “Women are super underrepresented in the competition, we are super underrepresented overall.”
Sarah Rodriguez said the different coverage of women’s and men’s competitions was just one example.
“We’re on the same stage 30 minutes beforehand, they literally clean it up and don’t show us” [on the same channel]”, she said.” We train anyway.
“I’m trying to create the presence for the women. I want it to be normalized,” she added. “For example, you can eat, you can enjoy … food is fuel and it’s someday. And you know, I bet there are a lot of good eaters out there who would destroy it, they just are, you know “We don’t see them. You don’t even see us at the competition, so if I can bring out women’s faces and encourage them to come up and try.”