ATLANTA - Crazy Legs Conti and SuperPaul Bonebreaker BigMouth BoomBoom Barlow helped headline one of the biggest sporting events in Georgia. No, not the Masters, not the opening of Braves baseball, but instead, a Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest qualifier at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival.
The competitors, dare we call them athletes, are given 10 minutes to consume as many hot dogs as possible. Some chose to down 'em like they're at a backyard barbecue, while others danced around, dipped the buns in water and ate two at a time. But no matter the method, all that mattered was how many dogs they could consume.
"Yesterday, I actually spent at the Bronx Zoo observing the habitats of different animals," Crazy Legs Conti told WSBTV.com's Nelson Hicks. "You'd think the tiger that is very Joey Chestnut-like, but it was the seal that really inspired me, the fluid grace. That's what I tried to emulate here today."
Chestnut is the top-ranked eater in the world according to Major League Eating. Yes, there's a federation when it comes to competitive eating, and it ranks Crazy Legs Conti as one of its top 25 eaters in the world.
No threat to Crazy Legs during this competition was the Walker School graduates and entrants Kevin Patrick and Chuck Perrin, both of whom trained their entire lives for this competition.
"We're just humbled to be around such fine athletes and I've felt like (I've been training for this) since I was born," Patrick said.
"I've been training every single day of my life, three meals, sometimes four," Perrin commented.
Neither Patrick nor Perrin will be headed to Coney Island to participate in Nathan's July 4 hot dog eating contest; only the winner of the Atlanta qualifier landed a spot in the championships. The pair said they'd have to settle for a post-contest buffet at Ryan's instead.
A newcomer to the world of competitive eating nearly nabbed a chance to relish in the Coney Island event. Clayton State basketball player Gideon Oji played ketchup nearly the entire 10 minute competition and almost mustard the strength to take home the title. Oji ate 20 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
"There's no winning for effort," Oji said. "I came here to go to Coney Island and I thought I still had a lot more (eating) in me. I need to pace myself more, work on my technique and everything and definitely next time. I'll be the guy (going to Coney Island) from here, that's for sure. I know that."
But in the end, it was Crazy Legs Conti who will say cheese and pose for cameras at Coney Island.
"My New York Post horoscope said to ignore revenge this weekend, it really did," Conti said. "And the Chinese (fortune) cookie said, 'be full.' So, I tried to put that out of my mind."
Crazy Legs consumed 21 hot dogs in 10 minutes and ticket to compete on Coney Island July 4. But the competition gets much tougher. Joey Chestnut is the eight-time defending champ. Last year, Chestnut ate 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes.