“Buffalo” Jim Reeves holds the world record for eating watermelon (13.2 pounds in 15 minutes) and pork rinds (11.32 ounces in 8 minutes). The Gowanda High School math and computer science teacher, who lives in the Town of Boston, can also boast that he is the only one to compete in every U.S. Chicken Wing Eating Contest at the National Wing Buffalo Festival.
He enters the 15th annual festival this weekend 60 pounds lighter than the first.
“People don’t understand it,” Reeves said. “They think competitive eaters are just a bunch of fat guys but, in reality, five of the top 10 competitive eaters in the world are under 150 pounds. Competitive eating is extremely strenuous. It’s taxing on your body. If you’re not in shape, you’re not going to do as well.”
Come 5 p.m. Sunday at Coca-Cola Field, Reeves, 47, the 20th-ranked competitive eater in the world, will face challengers that include three of the top five Major League Eaters – last year’s winner Joey Chestnut, previous winner Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, and 6-foot-9 International Federation of Competitive Eating rookie sensation Gideon Oji, who recently gobbled 170 wings in 10 minutes.
Q. When did you decide to lose weight and why?
I started doing the South Beach Diet about the time of the first Chicken Wing Festival and over a period of six or seven months I lost about 70 pounds. I went from 305 to 235. My weight has gone up and down since. Five or six years ago, my wife, Terri, and I decided we were going to run a half-marathon. We’ve run three half-marathons in the last five years.
Q. What is your diet like?
I generally take plain Greek yogurt to school every day. I eat bran flakes for breakfast, yogurt for lunch. We eat chicken and stir-fry vegetables or rice. Now that I’m 47 and have three kids, my diet is exclusively about trying to lose weight. I’m down to 240 now but my goal is to get down to 210, 200.
– Scott Scanlon
On the Web: Jim Reeves talks competitive eating prep at refresh.buffalonews.com