A Bloomington man has turned his appetite for competition into a side hustle that could one day make him a household name.
Matt "Hungry" Hazzard placed seventh at the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest on Coney Island, where he ate a personal best 34 hots dogs and buns. Joey Chestnut won the event for a 12th time, throwing down 71 hot dogs.
Hazzard said his friends and family have pushed him to see how far competitive eating can take him.
“They think it’s pretty cool in terms of it’s something you don’t see every day,” Hazzard said. “It’s not something everyone can do and it’s kind of like a sense of amazement there, but it’s also just fun to travel. All my friends would come to the restaurant with me and brag on me.”
Hazzard said he's fairly new to competitive eating but after finishing a few "Man v. Food" challenges he was ready.
“It just hooked me,” he said. “I’m a competitive guy and I like to eat, so it’s just a lot of fun.”
Despite his ability to put down prodigious amounts of food, Hazzard stays in great shape. At 6-feet-2, 188 pounds, Hazzard said he works out regularly, eats healthy "90% of the time" and subscribes to the theory body fat limits the stomach’s ability to expand.
“A lot of the competitive eaters out there and especially the ones who are on stage on the Fourth of July, I would say 16 of 17 of the 18 people that were up there were really fit,” Hazzard explained.
Hazzard is 25 and works in cyber security. He said he doesn't ever plan to give up his day job, unlike Chestnut, who he calls the “Michael Jordan of competitive eating.”
Hazzard, an Olympia High School and Rose-Human Institute of Technology graduate, said he enters about 15 competitions a year.
His next one is Sunday, the “Fat Boys" pizza eating championships in New Orleans. Whoever can chow down the most two-foot pizza slices in 10 minutes gets top prize from a $3,000 pot.
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