Former heavyweight boxer David Brunelli, 37, knocked out his competition during the First Hot Dog Chow Down contest by devouring 27 hot dogs in 8-and-a-half minutes at Rudi’s, a bar in Patchogue.
The victory didn’t come easy.
“I’ve been working out .?.?. I do water training, which is drinking gallons of water to stretch my stomach,” Brunelli said, “The other day I ate 10 pounds of food, and drank a half a gallon of water on top of it .?.?. to prepare for today, I fasted a little bit.”
Brunelli’s appetite for competition isn’t new. The Philadelphia resident has participated in more than 100 eating contests in the past three years.
But Michael Lauria, co-owner of Rudi’s, said the friendly competition was also a way for novices to get into the action.
“It gives the regular person an opportunity,” he said. “The one in Coney Island has a lot more professionals. I know today we have a lot of people who just want to get this off their bucket list.”
As DJs played hip-hop songs, 15 contestants lined up to dig into piles of dogs. Guests stared wide-eyed and shook their heads in disbelief as the top three winners shoved soggy hot dogs into their mouths.
The words “disgusting” and “horrific” were murmured as guests used phones to record the water-soaked franks being downed.
The First Hot Dog Chow Down at Rudi’s is a result of a collaboration with SlingPing, a website the promotes local businesses, and other sponsors. Local businesses and nonprofits also set up auctions and other promotions.
After the competition, Brunelli claimed his prize with a big smile and bun remnants stuck in his beard. He won $500 and two tickets to see the Yankees. Wayne Algenio, 28, the second-place winner, won $175; and Patrick Taylor, 40, won third place and $75 in his first hot dog eating competition.
“I feel fine,” Algenio said, “I could eat another 10 hot dogs if I had to; but not at that pace.”
Sean Montalvo, 32, of Patchogue, felt differently, even as he just watched his friends participate.
“At my next barbecue, I won’t even look at the hot dogs,” he said.