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EATING & DRINKING

The lady is a champ

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted March 15, 2014
miki sudo
Winning in wings: Miki powers her way to victory in Buffalo wings. © Buffalo Wing Festival

MLE number four competitive eater Miki Sudo talks exclusively to the R&H about the press, training and the year ahead.


All in all, 2013 was a pretty good year for Las Vegas-based battler of the bouche Miki Sudo.

After making her Major League Eating (MLE) début with a whopping great winning gut count of 40 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes at the Las Vegas Nathan's qualifier in April, she then went on to compete in a total of 15 MLE championships, never once placing lower than third and in so doing racking up, among other things, two victories over superhuman superscarfing superhero Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut.

And that's not mentioning the contest record of 192 chicken wings in 10 minutes she set at the Las Vegas Hooters qualifier either.

Moreover, having smashed straight into the MLE rankings at number seven in May, she then leapt to number four when the latest rankings were announced at the end of December1, overtaking the Rake & Herald's all-time favourite alimentary athlete, the wonderful, the fantastic, the fantastically wonderful Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas thus ending her decade-long reign as the highest ranked female eater on the circuit.

Not bloody bad, eh?


PRAISE FOR THE TOP THREE
But what does Miki think of her new number four spot?

"I'm honoured to have risen in the rankings and I'm just going to do my best this year to live up to being number four," she exclusively tells that Rake bloke and ergo the Rake & Herald over the blower.

"Joey is such an amazing competitor and rightfully deserves his spot as does [Matt 'Megatoad' Stonie]," she says of the respective MLE number one and two eaters, adding that she "didn't expect to top either one of them".

And as for Tim 'Eater X' Janus, the number three, Miki states: "We competed against each other three times [last year]."

"He beat me by a wide margin once, I beat him by a clear margin another time and then the kind of tie breaker was the tamale contest."

"I lost to him."

"It was only by 3.6 oz [102 g] but it was a loss nevertheless."

"Plus, he's done amazingly well at Nathan's."

"I can't top that."

On the whole then, she seems pretty pleased.

And who could blame her?


WHAT THE PAPERS LIE
Sadly, though, Miki's meteoric rise has had a downside: the bloody press, with Miki recounting one very recent example where a UK magazine repeatedly called her up to run a feature.

"It was a whole bunch of back and forth and I was very careful with my words," she says.

"I was a little disappointed because when they read the article back to me for a fact check everything was wrong."

As well as repeatedly misquoting her, the female hack in question also did a fine job of ballsing up her facts, claiming, for example, that Miki was the only female to compete in the Hooters final at the end of July, something, Miki notes, that might be challenged by Michelle 'Cardboard Shell' Lesco, who took fourth, the Black Widow, who came fifth, and the Lovely' Juliet Lee, who placed eighth.

But that's not all because the said hack also gave Miki "some weird nickname".

"I just feel like why did I put so much time and effort into choosing my words wisely when you're just going to make stuff up anyway?" Miki says.

"It was hilariously wrong but I was just peeved."

"If you're going to go ahead and do your own thing just leave me out of it."

Well, quite.

"Another thing [the hack] asked me was what I do with all my earnings."

"First of all, I never talk about how much I make."

"I've never put a figure out there so anything that shows up in writing is made up."

"I think she said I made $30,000 [£18,000] or something, but I never throw out a figure because I feel it's not necessary."


FLASH OF IMAGINATION
Nevertheless, in an inspired flash of imagination, the hack still claimed Miki spent all her winnings "on clothing and accessories".

"It's another thing I never said."

"Those are questions I never answer and she was just making up answers for me."

So does that mean the recent Daily Mail article that reckons Miki is from Noi Yoik and earned $25,000 last year is a load of bollocks as well?

Yes, it would appear.

"I really don't know where that number would have come from but it doesn't really bother me."

"I just try not to read stuff about myself anymore."

While Miki is resigned to the fact that the media habitually makes things up, we here at the Rake & Herald can fully understand how annoying it must be to give an interview only for all your words to be replaced by inventions, whether penned by the interviewer themself or by a subsequent subeditor looking to 'sex things up'.

Unfortunately, as Miki is all too aware, this is what happens when what you do puts you in the public eye.

The trouble is, not knowing any better, people will then read all this fictional guff and accept it as fact when clearly it isn't.

"I guess it all comes with the territory," she says.

"I appreciate that writers are interested in competitive eating and all our events, even if it means that articles are fluffed up here and there."


Miki Sudo ribs
Ladies first: Miki outeating Jaws in ribs. © Rib Fest Chicago


CAN I HAVE YOUR AUTOGRAPH, PLEASE?
But cobblers-spouting hacks aside, does Miki's new-found fame see her getting stopped in the street by Joe Public or his wife Mrs Public?

"I've gotten that here in Las Vegas," she says.

"Sometimes from my YouTube videos, sometimes from articles in the local paper and sometimes for the show that I filmed last year, Stuffed."

"It always catches me off guard when people know me because it's so surreal that people would recognise me."

"Sometimes I feel a little bit guilty."

"I've actually had people ask me to take pictures and I'm thinking I don't feel camera ready at all."

"It usually happens in grocery stores."

"I'm not entirely sure why."

"I don't tell people I'm a competitive eater."

"I never lead with that but sometimes it just comes up because I'll have people ask me why I travel so much or why I'm constantly gone."

For instance, after Miki's been out of town for a bit, a shop assistant might comment that they've not seen her for a while, to which she'll casually reply that she was in California or Florida or wherever only to be asked why she was there.

"Then I'm caught off guard and I just say an eating competition and that's how that all develops so there are people in my neighbourhood that know me as the eating girl."

"I don't mind it."


YOU EAT COMPETITIVELY?
So, other than where's she been and whether they can take a picture, what sort of things do people ask her?

"Just the typical stuff," Miki replies.

"Do you get sick?"

"Why do you do this?"

"Or sometimes people will challenge me, saying I bet I could eat more than you or I've got a buddy who can eat so much."

"It always makes me chuckle because they have no idea of the amount of food we eat in these short time frames."

"I just laugh to myself and keep my comments to myself."

Probably a good thing really when you think about it.

Seriously, if you're not a top-flight gurgitator, could you imagine taking on a woman who, inter alia, has boshed 7.1 lbs of ribs in 12 minutes; 7.5 lbs of asparagus in 10 minutes; 109 boiled eggs in 8 minutes; 17 plates of kimchi in 6 minutes; and a 120-oz steak for six people in 54 minutes while casually chatting with a mate?

Face it.

You're gonna lose.

Big time.


FIGHTING WEIGHT
Another thing a lot of people want to know is how Miki keeps so thin.

"It's hilarious because I know that I don't."

"My weight fluctuates just like anybody else's, especially in the off season."

"During the season I'm constantly watching what I eat and constantly in the gym."

"As soon as the off season came around I took a break."

"I had no reason to be going to the gym five, six, seven days a week."

"So I went on holiday for three weeks to Japan and my weight went up just like any normal person's would."

In fact, Miki reveals, her weight while not eating competitively went up by around 20-25 lbs (9-11.3 kg).

However, since coming back to the States, she's now returned to her 'fighting weight' of around 120 lbs.

"I perform so much better when I'm fit and healthy," she says.

And this makes perfect sense given that excess visceral fat, something which that Rake bloke has in spades, can impede the stomach from expanding, which is not exactly what you want to happen when the clock's ticking and you're up against some the of the world's greatest engobulators in a pitched battle for eternal glory.

But, as Miki explains, there's more to it than just that.

"You really need endurance and stamina to compete and I think that's why I just perform better when I'm fit and healthy."

"So for me that entails working out and eating well and getting a lot of rest and staying hydrated, none of which I was doing in Japan."

"Since getting back, I've been eating healthy and I'm in the gym everyday because I know my limits and I know that I want to do well at the table so it's just lifestyle choices that make that possible for me."


TYPICAL DIET
But hang on.

When she's competing regularly, isn't she scoffing a shedtonne of food?

"When I travel on the circuit, there might be all this delicious food around us but I won't get to eat much of it," Miki reveals.

"Every other trip is for a contest and I might get there the day of it or the day before but I can't enjoy the region's delicacies because I know that would be counterproductive."

So, without wanting to sound too much like a random stranger in the produce aisle, what does her usual intake and routine consist of?

"I love kale so at the beginning of the week I make a huge salad out of it and I just eat that throughout the day and that's pretty much it," she says.

"Typically, contests are on the weekend, so that would be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday."

"It still varies but that's my go-to meal."

"As the contest approaches, I start juicing all my meals."

"I don't like going into a contest completely starving but I also don't want solid food blocking my digestives system so I just juice all my meals and I feel that way I get nutrients but it also allows me to go into the competition ready to eat a lot."

"I cut back on solid foods but I don't like starving myself entirely."

"The day of the competition, I don't really eat or drink much."

"I might sip on water but again I just like going in feeling lean and healthy."


Miki and Pabs
Smiles all round: Miki with fellow 2013 rookie Pablo 'Pabs' Martinez. © Pablo Martinez


MIKI DOESN'T TRAIN
In terms of actual training, Miki reveals that she doesn't do any, "especially not water training".

"Obviously, I have a couple of videos up on YouTube where I practiced with hot dogs last year but that's only because there's a huge amount on the line and hot dogs are always the most technical and difficult food in terms of taste tolerance, capacity, technique and speed."

"If the food's unfamiliar to me, I might prepare a small batch and play around with the texture to decide on a technique."

"But ultimately the food served in a contest might differ in size or consistency, so I don't really rely on home practices to stay competitive."

"It's more important to me to go in focused, so I can adapt to contest conditions under pressure."

So, if you're wondering whether Miki does full 10-minute practices at home, the answer is no.

"Honestly, if I had done full 10-minute practices for some of these contests, I probably would've backed out," she jokes, citing last year's bratwurst bashing bash as an example.

"That was a tough competition."

"Afterwards, I was feeling not sick but lethargic and the sodium hit me."

"Maybe with practice I would do better but on the same token I think it would take a lot of the fun out of it."

"I registered for as many events as I could [last year] because every contest was giving me preparation for the next one and every contest made me stronger."

"That was enough practice for me."

Not only did this approach expose her to a broad range of different foods, from kimchi to Twinkies, but it also taught her what she's not so good at as well, with Miki stating that "there's no way" she could beat Jaws, Eater X or Bob 'Notorious B.O.B.' Shoudt at chili, or chilli if you're British (again we win at Scrabble, America!).

"I learned one of my weaknesses and I'm fine with that," Miki says of her bronze-winning performance at the 6-minute Ben's Chili Bowl's World Chili Eating Championship in Washington, DC this past October.

"Each bowl weighed 2.5 lbs so I ate 17.5 lbs in the first 4 or 5 minutes but after that I just couldn't eat another drop."

"It's not that I ran out of time, it's just that those guys simply had larger capacities than mine and so chili, anything soup-like, I'll probably be staying away from."


SLIDERS AND TACOS
Two foods that Miki most definitely won't be staying away from, though, are pulled pork sliders and Indian Creek tacos, which she will be shoving down her throat like no one's business during back-to-back all-you-can-eat gobathons at the Wind Creek's Throw Down at the Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Atmore, Alabama this coming March 28 and 29.

Marking her first food fights of the 2014 MLE season, Miki will face a formidable field that among other gurgitational gladiators will include Jaws, Megatoad and Eater X.

"So this might be the first contest where I do place below third," she says.

"Tim's the defending champion [in Indian Creek tacos] so it's going to be a tough one."

"I didn't do this competition last year so I'm not familiar with the food so Tim's definitely got that edge over me."

Moreover, while Miki is no stranger to sliders, expecting "the buns to be soft and the meat to be nice and juicy", resulting in "a pretty fast food" that's "easy to eat", Indian Creek tacos are something of an unknown for her.

"It's a food that's only offered at that particular casino or just in that region but it's not widely available," she says.

"But again, I'm not going in with any expectations."

"It's going to be a tough field but I think it should be a great time."

"Plus, I've never been to Alabama."

"It's going to be a little rough, though, because I'm flying directly from Chicago [where she is currently helping out Stuffed hosts Patrick 'Deep Dish' Bertoletti and Tim 'Gravy' Brown with the launch of their new restaurant] to a taping in LA and then directly to Mobile for the contest."

"So, within three days, I'm going to be zipping across the country and back."

"I'm crossing time zones and states so there's not going to be much time for practice or preparation but on the same token it's not going to give me too much time to stress out over it either."

"I'm going to be there and it's going to be go time."

"I'm a little bit nervous because for me it's going to be the first contest of the year."

"It's hard because during [last] season it was go, go, go."

"Now that I've had four months off it's a little bit intimidating to have to jump right back into it."

However, while Miki hasn't "done anything competitive eating-related in an entire four months" save for a taste bud-battering YouTube booze and spice skirmish with Kevin 'LA Beast' Strahle, we here at the Rake & Herald have every confidence in her abilities, natural talent and attitude, whether its eating pork sliders, Indian Creek tacos or the numerous other foods she will be bolting back this year.


TOTAL COMMITMENT
Indeed, in terms of future events, Miki has already registered to take part in the Magnify Credit Union World Ice Cream Eating Championship (12/4/14); the Stockton Asparagus Festival World Deep Fried Asparagus Eating Competition (26/4/14); the National Sweet Corn Eating Championship (27/4/14); the Eastern Shore Wing War Sponsored By Mountaire Farms (11/5/14); the Niko Niko's World Gyro Eating Championship (18/5/14); and the West Virginia Three Rivers Festival Pepperoni Roll Eating World Championship (24/5/14).

While it obviously remains to be seen exactly how Miki fares in these chowdowns, one thing is for certain: she'll be giving them her all.

"I take competitive eating seriously because I like to put in 100% in anything I do, whether it be school or work or my duties as a sister."

"I don't like to give partial effort."

"I take it seriously but at the same time I don't beat myself up if I don't do well."

"It was my first year [last year] and everything was new to me."

"If I felt like I did less than my best I just took that experience and learnt from it."

"There's no point getting upset over anything."

Quite.

Fair play, ma'am, and massive thanks for your time and answers.

All power to your chompers, Miki!


FIVE 'FACTS' THE MEDIA HAVE YET TO MAKE UP ABOUT MIKI
• Miki speaks nothing but German having lived all her life in Bonn.

• Last year she won $42bn in prize money, all of which was paid out in potatoes.

• She spent the lot on a nuclear-powered submarine she sailed to the Moon and back FIVE times!

• In the 1930s, she starred alongside French existentialist writer Albert Camus in John Boorman's 1974 sci-fi clusterf--k Zardoz, playing a Bulgarian assassin with a liking for anchovies.

• Since building a time machine from Lego next week she has relocated to 19th century Wales, where she invented plutonium, the balalaika and breakfast.


See also Miki Sudo speaks, posted 4/7/13.


Sandi Toxic
was raised by wolves inside a disused clay pit near Lanjeth. You can befriend her on FaceBook here. She is still quite feral.


Footnote

1) We here at the Rake & Herald were on our Christmas break/piss-up when MLE announced the current rankings so for the record here they are now (compared to those announced in May 2013) in what is quite possibly the longest footnote in the history of world!

1) Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut (no change);

2) Matt 'Megatoad' Stonie (up 2);

3) Tim 'Eater X' Janus (down 1);

4) Miki Sudo (up 3);

5) Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas (down 2);

6) Bob 'Notorious B.O.B.' Shoudt (down 1);

7) Adrian 'the Rabbit' Morgan (down 1);

8) 'the Lovely' Juliet Lee (up 1);

9) Michelle 'Cardboard Shell' Lesco (up 5);

10) Jeff 'the Beast Man' Butler (up 6);

11) Aaron 'A-Train' Osthoff (down 3);

12) Yasir Salem (up 7);

13) Micah 'Wing Kong' Collins (up 2);

14) Erik 'the Red' Denmark (down 3);

15) Sean 'Flash' Gordon (down 5);

16) Marcos 'the Monster' Owens (up 12; biggest upwards mover);

17) Pablo 'Pabs' Martinez (up 4);

18) Juan 'More Bite' Rodriguez (up 2);

19) Meredith 'the Deep-Fried Diva' Boxberger (up 6);

20) Pete 'Pretty Boy' Davekos (down 7);

21) 'Buffalo' Jim Reeves (down 3);

22) Eric 'Badlands' Booker (down 10; equal biggest downwards mover);

23) Ronnie 'MegaByte' Hartman (new entry);

24) Steve Hendry (down 2);

25) 'Big' Brian Subich (up 4);

26) Crazy Legs Conti (down 3);

27) William 'Wild Bill' Myers (up 10);

28) Nathan 'Nasty Nate' Biller (re-entry);

29) Brian 'Dud Light' Dudzinski (down 5);

30) Larell Marie 'the Real Deal' Mele (down 3);

31) Andrew 'the Bear' Kogutkiewicz (up 3);

32) Jon 'Bastos' Bello (down 6);

33) Matthew Raible (up 9);

34) Neslie 'Sweetness' Ricasa (new entry);

35) Damien Boykin (up 3);

36) Josh Miller (new entry);

37) Corey 'King Voodoo' Fanguy (down 6);

38) Mary 'I Love 'Em Hot!' Bowers (up 5);

39) Mike Landrich (down 3);

40) Neil 'Snack Galafaniakis' Sebree (down 10; equal biggest downwards mover);

41) Eric 'Steakbellie' Livingston (down 6);

42) Bam Martinez (up 4);

43) Matt Bonanno (down 10; equal biggest downwards mover);

44) Alex 'Moose' Perez (new entry);

45) Bryan 'Big Sexy' Beard (down 6);

46) Tracy 'Mmm Mmm' Goode (up 3);

47) Ben Do (down 6);

48) Dax 'the Ginger' Swanson (down 3);

49) João Paulo (down 2); and

50) 'Beautiful' Brian Seiken (down 2).




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