November 26, 2003

Sonya Thomas wins the 2003 Thanksgiving Invitational!
New York, NY, Nov. 26, 2003 — 100-pound rookie eater Sonya Thomas of Alexandria, VA, won the 2003 Thanksgiving Meal Invitational by consuming 7¾ one-pound plates of Thanksgiving meal (featuring Turducken, green beans, cranberry sauce and yams) in 12 minutes.

Edward "Cookie" Jarvis, the 409-pound mutli-title champion from Nesconsett, NY, took second place with 7½ one-pound plates, and 420-pound Eric "Badlands" Booker of Copaigue, NY, came in third with 5¾ one-pound plates.

Thomas' victory was a major upset. Jarvis has dominated the 2003 eating season, earning six major titles, and Booker, world matzo ball and corned beef hash eating champion, won the 2002 Thanksgiving Meal Invitational.
And thanks to proud International Federation of Competitive Eating employee Nancy Goldstein, I was able to witness first-hand the sheer majesty and spectacle of watching nine folks down a collective 50 pounds of food in 12 minutes. As for the competitors, you're simply never going to meet a nicer or more gracious group of people in your life, just a great bunch of folks who can down huge amounts of food and look absolutely no worse for the wear. I chatted with Eric "Badlands" Booker, who I originally met at a Carson Daly taping, as well as with Marie "Changsaw" Chang, chili-eating specialist, rock/paper/scissors champion, and stone cutie-pie.

But the big story of the day was, of course, the unbelievable performance of new American champion, and great U.S. hope to unseat hot-dog champ Takeru Kobayashi next July 4th at Nathan's, Sonya Thomas. Folks, you'll have to believe me when I tell you, without a hint of hyperbole, that watching Sonya's performance today was one of the most unbelievable feats I have ever had the good fortune to witness. To watch this Virginia rookie, who tips the scales at no more than 110 pounds, down plate after plate after plate of food in less time it would take an average man to chew and swallow a bite of pumpkin pie...well, stunning would be the only word that can possibly describe it. It was truly stunning, and I was proud to be there to be a part of this historic event.
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