While thousands of festival goers at the 15th annual Festival of Discovery were focused on ribs, hash, barbecue sandwiches, slaw and baked beans, 10 men put their focus on eating as many hot dogs as possible in 12 minutes at the Skins Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Michael Diebold earned his fourth consecutive win at the contest by downing 18 hot dogs, the same number he has posted in each of the last three years to secure the title after putting away 22 hot dogs in 2012, his first year entering the contest.
Diebold attributed the drop off to 18 to not being in as good of physical shape as he was in 2012 when he won the competition by eating 22 hot dogs.
“Hot dog competitions are like basketball, baseball or football,” Diebold said after winning his fourth crown along with a check for $500. “You perform better if you’re in better shape. That first year I walked a lot and I was in better shape. The last three years, I haven’t walked as much.”
Even with the drop off to 18, Diebold has taken home the winner’s share of the $750 for four years running.
For the second straight year, Mark “Fro Hungry” Reboul took home second prize. He won second place in 2014 by eating 17 hot dogs and earned the runner-up spot this year by downing 16 hot dogs.
For the first time in several years, there were no “technical difficulties,” City Manager Charlie Barrineau’s term for disqualification by vomiting.
The annual hot dog contest is a fan favorite at the largest barbecue festival in the southeast. All of Uptown Greenwood resonates with Barrineau’s booming voice as he leads the crowd in a chant of “Eat! Eat! Eat!” and admonishes contestants to continue stuffing their faces with shouts of “This is not a free lunch!”
While the 2015 Skins Hot Dog Eating Contest is over, Diebold vowed to pursue a fifth crown before hanging up his chops.
“I’m 51 years old so I’m starting to get older and my stomach just can’t take what it did four years ago,” Diebold said. “I’m coming back next year to beat my record of 22 and take a shot at the record here of 27 hot dogs.”