For most folks, hot dogs are an occasional treat. But for one Sherman resident, they are a tool of the trade of competitive eating. Jocelyn Walker, of Sherman, will take part in the Nathan’s Famous July 4th Hot Dog Championship next week, and the competitive eater ranked at 48th in the world, Walker said she has only been at it little over a year.
An occupational therapist with a hospital in Sherman, Walker watched the annual contest with her patients for several years. Then last year, she decided she would try her hand at it and entered the qualifier at Six Flags.
Much to her surprise, she said in a telephone interview, she won. And then, she was off to New York City.
Walker earned her seat at the table this year at the Valdosta, Georgia qualifier by eating 10 Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and buns.
A total of 18 men and 18 women are expected to compete on July 4. The men’s and women’s contests each offer $20,000 in cash prizes.
Ten hot dogs at one sitting sounds like a lot, but to win, Walker will have to beat out last year’s winner Miki Sudo who ate 37 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. A statement from Nathan’s Famous said Sudo has won the title five times and has an all-time best record of 41 hot dogs and buns set back in 2018.
Walker will also compete against last year’s second place winner Michelle Lesco who ate 28 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The women’s world record is 45 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.
Walker trains by eating between 10 and 12 hot dogs at a time once a week during the season and drinking up to a gallon of water in five minutes every other day or so.
She said in addition to liking to eat, she enjoys the opportunity to travel that the sport offers and she has made some friends among the other competitors.
“Having watched it every year with my patients, being a part of it is special, especially knowing that my patients are back at the hospital watching,” she said of the event.
In addition to the competition, Walker is looking forward to exploring New York City.
And though hot dogs bring Walker to “City that Never Sleeps,”she doesn’t just eat hot dogs competitively. She has also taken part in eating contests that feature moon pies, donuts and ham and potato croquettes.
“I don’t even like ham,” she laughed. But, what she does like is to catch up with her friends at those other eating contests.
She said she never in her wildest dreams would have thought just watching a competition with her patients would have inspired her to become involved.
“I never thought I would win,” she said of that first qualifier.
For those who would like to cheer Walker on but can’t make the trip to “The Golden Apple,” ESPN has exclusive live broadcast rights from 10:50 a.m. July 4 to the conclusion of the event, expected to be at 1:05 p.m. ET. The women’s competition coverage will begin at 10:50 a.m. ET and will be telecast live on ESPN3 and the ESPN App. The men’s competition coverage will begin at 12 p.m. ET and will be telecast live on ESPN2. It will re-air on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. ET, 4 p.m. ET, and 1 a.m. ET, and on ESPNEWS at 7 p.m. ET and midnight ET. Air times subject to change.