Five minutes had expired at the Greater Andover Days hot dog eating contest and three of the contestants were tied, having eaten 9½ franks and buns apiece.
So it went into overtime. They had to eat for another two minutes to determine a winner.
Sterling Brown, a sophomore defense end for the Andover Central High School football team, had already eaten a sausage, egg and cheese bagel from McDonalds that morning, constantly sipped water all day and chowed down an apple two hours before Saturday’s race “to give me energy.”
But he felt his stomach had room for more hot dogs and ended up with a total of 12, defeating defending champion Steve Wilscam and his friend Dawson Plum to take home the trophy and first-place prizes.
“It was really exciting with us being neck and neck,” Brown said. “It was almost movie like – out of all the best, who’s going to pull through? Who’s going to have the gumption to win it all? Once it went into overtime … well, I was pretty full at that point, but I was going to do whatever it took. I was driven.”
That he was. The contest had 10 entries but it was hard to take your eyes off the 15-year-old Brown, who is 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds.
He started off dipping his hot dogs into water - not an unusual tactic – but then began to simply dump water over the buns still on the plate.
“I just did that to save time when my mouth was full,” Brown said. “The water just gives the buns a lot of softness and makes them real wet and easy to get down. Then one of the (emcees) mentioned that nobody was using mustard. So being the smart and funny guy I am, I started asking (the volunteers) for mustard to put on mine.”
All of which made quite a mess. A couple of the contestants – and a few spectators – fought the urge to get sick, but nobody at the table threw up.
The event began with Wilscam, 31, displaying in front of the audience last year’s first-place trophy, which he easily won by eating 9½ in five minutes. He finished third this year, with the 17-year-old Plum finishing second.
After being interviewed Brown called back, wishing to thank the sponsors. In addition to Farmland supplying the hot dogs and Sonic donating the buns, Brown won deluxe gift packages from Treescapes and Vic’s Corn Popper.
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Brown said he put his trophy at his bedside, but will be showing it off at school Monday morning.
“It was a great experience,” Brown said. “I’ll definitely be back next year to defend my title. I would actually encourage more people to do it. It’s a lot of fun.”
Brown insists he felt just fine afterwards.
“I wasn’t experiencing pain or sickness or anything like that,” Brown said. “In fact, about an hour afterward I was getting into my mom’s spaghetti.”
Adam Knapp is Editor-in-Chief of the Andover American. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.