He hits the gym to train … to eat hot dogs

Professional competitive eater training in North Texas ahead of famous hot dog eating contest

NBC Universal, Inc.

The last two-and-a-half years have been beyond James Webb’s wildest dreams.

“I've got a business economics degree,” Webb said. “I spent seven years in college. I've worked sales, marketing… I’ve (had) a lot of corporate jobs, a lot of computer work.”

He hung up his suits for a radical career change.

“Now I just wear stretchy pants and baggy t-shirts,” Webb said.

Twice a day, seven times a week, Webb is at the gym. However, he’s not doing reps for his physique. Webb is currently training in North Texas to eat hot dogs.

“I’m known as JWebby Can Eat, and I eat food for a living,” Webb said.

Webb has more than 81,000 followers on Instagram and 101,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel.

He’s traveled from Australia to North Texas to train for Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island.

“The 4th of July hot dog contest is like our Super Bowl,” Webb said. “So, I'm currently in Dallas in my own little kind of training camp. I'm training in the gym and training eating hot dogs, sleeping, and repeating every single day.”

Webb said his career as a competitive eater was unexpected.

“It's kind of my wife's fault. She bribed me to go on a day trip to a vineyard in Australia, and I did a burger challenge on the way,” Webb said. "I ate this Australia's biggest burger in 23 minutes, and it went crazy on social media, mainstream media."

According to Webb, professional competitive eaters began to reach out and invite him to compete.

“I had no idea about this. Like secret society. I thought it was pretty cool,” Webb said. “I won every contest in Australia. And then like the biggest contest is in America. So I'm like, OK, I want to go mix it with the big boys.”

This will be Webb's third time competing in Coney Island.

“Believe it or not, in a contest you get puffed out, so you've got to be relatively fit,” Webb said.

In addition to weight training and a brisk 30-minute walk on the treadmill, Webb spends at least one hour strengthening his jaw. He always carries a green jaw trainer around his neck.

"(I use it) so that when I bite through a hotdog, it's like biting through butter," Webb said.

"Especially leading into a contest, it's all about rhythm, right? So, I'm trying to eat two hotdogs in four bites. When I'm training, generally I'm not talking to anyone, so, I just kind of chomp on it."

Between his gym sessions, Webb practices his technique for the competition.

“You got to go buy 50 hot dogs, 50 buns, and they look at you funny at the checkout,” Webb said. “To fit 50 hot dogs in your stomach is one thing, but you need to eat five a minute consistently for ten minutes. So, it's all about technique.”

Leading up to competition, Webb has one meal a day that ranges from 45 to 55 hot dogs. His strategy, he said, is the two-hot-dogs-one-bun-technique. This consists of him shoving two hot dog links in his mouth white dunking one bun in cranberry juice.

“I use cranberry juice as my dunking drink. It's a little bit sweeter than most drinks,” Webb said. “I need something sweet to, like, reset my taste buds.”

In ten minutes, Webb aims to scarf down at least 50 hot dogs. His body, he said, has a hard time digesting his meal.

“You get the meat sweats,” Webb said. “So, a cold shower, (and), usually, I lie down. If I'm not too full, I'll lie down. If you're too full, you kind of have to sit up on, like, a recliner. And then you kind of just, like, chill out.”

According to Webb, a two- or three-hour nap to recover is common.

“It’s a true (food) coma,” Webb said.

Webb will fly out to New York on Monday with his wife. He hopes to become the first Aussie to win.

“If I can get close to 55. I'm definitely in the mix for a top two finish,” Webb said.

According to the competition’s website, last year’s winner ate a grand total of 62 hot dogs.

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