The hot dog eating champion from last year's Greater Andover Days is back to defend his title. He's a little heavier, a little wiser … and now he's old enough to drive.
Sterling Brown, a 16-year-old junior at Andover Central High School, admits he didn't really know what he was doing when he entered the contest a year ago. That didn't stop him from beating nine other contestants – most of them adult men – to win it in overtime.
"Last year I didn't really train or anything," said Brown, a starting lineman for the Jaguar football team. "I was just hungry. I hadn't really eaten anything all day."
Actually, Brown ate a McDonald's sausage, egg and cheese bagel and an apple prior to the contest last year. So he didn't exactly starve himself.
"For me, I did," Brown replied.
The Third Annual GAD Hot Dog Eating Contest will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, on the main stage at Andover Central Park. Entries cost $10, which includes an event t-shirt, a GAD button and of course, all the hot dogs you can eat. You may sign up in advance at www.andoverks.org (there's a link on the left column).
Former KSN news anchor Don Grant, now a financial executive who has a daily segment on KNSS, will emcee the event. Ritchie Development is the main sponsor.
The top three finishers will receive edible prize packages from the Andover Popcorn Company. The top two placers also get gifts courtesy of Treescapes. In addition to that, the winner gets a custom-made trophy.
But back to Sterling Brown.
Last year Brown had to face the previous year's champion, Steve Wilscam, who won the 2010 contest by eating 9 1/2 hot dogs in five minutes.
Wilscam again finished 9 1/2 hot dogs last year … but so did Brown and his buddy, Dawson Plum. So the contest went into a two-minute overtime and Brown ran away with it, finishing with a total of 12 hot dogs.
This year, Brown said his goal is to finish 15 hot dogs. That's one hot dog every 20 seconds for five minutes.
"I don't think that's out of reach," Brown said.
Brown said there are at least three reasons why he'll be the eater to beat again this year.
1. He's grown. Sterling is now nearly 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds.
2. He's in training. "The top eaters in the world work out," Brown said. "So they're not getting fat – they're just expanding their stomachs. I've been eating as much as I possibly can to prepare myself for how much I want to eat this year. I'm just eating a ton of food – starches, things like that."
Page 2 of 2 - 3. He's got some motivation in his own household. Brown's younger brother Carter has claimed he's going to attempt the contest this year, too. "In case you want to add any more drama to it," Brown said.
There's a healthy dose of braggadocio that comes with winning the contest, but Brown said even he was surprised when he watched the video of himself from last year.
"I had no idea I acted that cocky," Brown said. "It really would have been embarrassing if I'd lost after that."