Here are the rankings of the top eaters in the world as ranked by Major League Eating (formerly the IFOCE), the sanctioning body that organizes most stomach-centric sporting events.
Joey Chestnut became the king of competitive eating in 2007, by beating Japanese legend Takeru Kobayashi at the July 4th Nathan's Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest, inhaling an eye-popping, record-setting 66 hot dogs (and buns) in 12 minutes. In 2008, Chestnut and Kobayashi both ate 59 dogs at Coney Island (in a shortened, 10-minute contest). Chestnut retained his titled by winning a 5-dog eat-off. (Photo)
This Chicago native, a culinary arts graduate of Kendall College, has is one of MLE's fastest rising stars. In April 2008, he won the ACME Oyster House championship, throwing back 35 dozen raw oysters on the half shell in 8 minutes. At the Krystal Square Off, he polished off 85 burgers to finish second. And nobody could top his performance at the 2009 Stroehmann Sandwich Slamm, where he made 16 8-ounce corned-beef sandwiches disappear in just ten minutes. (Photo)
Takeru Kobayashi -- the Michael Jordan of competitive eating -- revolutionized the sport, and turned Nathan's Coney Island hot dog eating contest into a nationally televised July 4th tradition. In 2001, when he downed 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes, he doubled the previous world record. Thus began his streak of six consecutive victories at the Coney Island contest. (Photo)
New Yorker Tim Janus has come on strong since 2004, when he was the International Federation of Competitive Eating's Rookie of the Year, advancing to the final four of the Alka Seltzer Open. He has since won titles in tamales (71 in 12 minutes), cannoli (26 large in 6 minutes), burritos (11.8 lbs in 10 minutes), Ramen Noodles (10.5 lbs. in 8 minutes), and tiramisu (4 lbs. in 6 minutes). (Photo)
Who says vegetarians eat like birds? "Humble" Bob Shoudt only consumes meat during competitions. Nevertheless, this Royersford, Pa., resident is one of the IFOCE's top competitive eaters. He also has the distinction of being the highest ranked eater who is also a parent. Among Shoudt's gustatory achievements: 9.25 lbs. of shoefly pie in 8 minutes; 7.6 pounds of meatballs in 12 minutes; and 25 hot dogs in 12 minutes. (Photo)
What Billie Jean King did for women's tennis, Sonya Thomas has done for women in competitive eating. Any person who can down 11 lbs. of cheesecake in nine minutes demands respect at the dinner table, and that is just one of her many achievements. They call her "Black Widow" because she's buried many men in eating competitions. (Photo)
7. Hall Hunt
One of the elite eaters who've achieved a "Double Tre" (60 or more burgers) at the Krystal Square Off, this Jacksonville, Fla., eater recently graduated from the University of Florida with an engineering degree. He is also a member of MENSA, the society for people with a high IQ, and wowed audiences on Spike TV's MLE Chowdown. (Photo)
Born in China, Juliet Lee taught chemistry at Ninjing University before emigrating to the United States and making her 2006 debut in competitive eating. She finished 8th at the 2008 Coney Island hot dog contest, becoming the second woman to finish in the top ten, just four franks behind Sonya Thomas. Weighing in at just 105 lbs., it's hard to figure where she puts it, when she downs 13 lbs. of cranberry sauce in eight minutes, as she did in 2007 on Spike TV.
This 31-year-old marketing manager from Chicago cracked the top ten in 2008, turning in solid performances in an array of food competition. He trains by eating 10 pounds of cucumber or asparagus in training sessions, washing it all down with a gallon of water in under four minutes. (Photo)
You're never to old to excel in this sport. This retiree from Henderson, Nev. -- who often competes side-by-side with his wife -- excels at marathon munch-offs of 30-minutes or longer, though he's no slouch in the sprints. Among his achievements: Five pounds of birthday cake in 11 minutes, 26 seconds, and 247 jalapeno peppers in eight minutes. Not bad for a guy in his mid 60s. (photo)