World Eating Champ Joey Chestnut to Compete in Calle Ocho Croqueta-Eating Contest

Joey Chestnut is the number one eater.
Joey Chestnut is the number one eater. Courtesy Major League Eating
This Sunday at 5 p.m., the world's champion eaters will converge on Calle Ocho for the first croqueta-eating contest sanctioned by Major League Eating.

The event, El Croquetazo, will see some of the highest-ranked eaters in the nation chowing down on Miami's favorite snack. Some local notables will be there too.

Leading the pack is the number one professional eater in the world, Joey Chestnut. The 32-year-old holds 43 world records, including the hot-dog-eating record, by downing 73.5 Nathan's Famous dogs (and buns) in ten minutes.

Chestnut's biggest competition at El Croquetazo will be the number-three-ranked Carmen Cincotti, who recently ate 42 Nathan's Famous hot dogs and buns in ten minutes to win the 2016 Washington, D.C., qualifier. Other champion eaters scheduled to participate are Geoffrey Esper (ranked fifth), Gideon Oji (number six), Michelle Lesco (number nine), Erik "the Red" Denmark (number 13), and Eric "Badlands" Booker (number 16).

According to Major League Eating's Sam Barclay, who will serve as the event's MC, the rules are simple: Eat as many croquetas as possible in eight minutes. How many can a champ like Chestnut down? Barclay wouldn't speculate on an exact number, simply saying, "A lot."
Chestnut recently tweeted that he's never even tried a croqueta, but that might be pure strategy, according to Barclay. "Joey might be playing possum a bit. He's very experienced and has been known to play mental games with his rivals."

Nevertheless, Barclay envisions Sunday's contest to be epic. "Miami is the spiritual home of the croqueta-based lifestyle. We are here to celebrate Calle Ocho the way we really know how: by eating way too much food. We like to assemble the greatest eaters in the history of mankind."

In addition to the championship croqueta battle, an amateur contest for attendees will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. and will award the first-place winner $300. A celebrity contest, from 3 to 4 p.m., will see 94.9 FM radio host Enrique Santos, City of Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo, WPLG Local 10 anchor Victor Oquendo, and others eating "a lot" of croquetas.

El Croquetazo at Calle Ocho
1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 12, at Carnaval Miami on the Calle Ocho stage, at SW Eighth Street and SW 14th Avenue, near the McDonald's, in Little Havana. Admission is free. Register for the amateur croqueta-eating contest at carnavalmiami.com.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss