FP: Tell us about your experience and emotion after winning the contest on the 4th of July. What was the most difficult part about it?
MS: The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is the “super bowl” of the competitive eating circuit. Some competitors are just happy to participate, but for a few of us, it’s very serious business. To answer your question, the most difficult part was coping with the pressure (to win) that I put on myself. Losing is not an option.
Emotion after winning: Just relief. I’m not particularly happy for myself or shocked because I prepare myself to win. I guess I’m just glad that I didn’t let the fans down.
FP: You were impressive for sure! How did you get your start as a competitive eater? What’s the most unusual item you’ve eaten during a contest?
MS: I started on a dare.
There’s a restaurant in Las Vegas Chinatown that was offering $1500 to eat a 12 pound bowl of pho within an hour. I was the first person to finish it, and it my competitive eating career spiraled from there.
Most unusual item: Oysters. I have a phobia, but I also refuse to disappoint. I tied for second place at the Hillsborough Ouster Festival last year.
FP: Half of FP says he’d love to do an oyster eating contest! How do you train for competitive eating contests?
MS: I can naturally eat up to 20 pounds. Capacity is never an issue. I only practice for speed.
FP: When you’re not training, what are some of your favorite meals to eat?
I love rare steak and sashimi, but I usually just eat kale and grilled chicken.
FP: Where are some of your favorite places to eat around the country or in other cities you’ve visited?
MS: I love Tokyo, Osaka, Kumamoto, and Fukuoka in Japan. I love Chiangmai and Phuket in Thailand. I love Seoul in South Korea. I love Belfast and Hillsborough in Ireland. In America, I love New York, The Bay (NorCal), and The 808 (Hawaii).
FP: We loved the food in Hawaii and hope to return. Besides hot dogs, what are some of your guilty pleasures? We call them foodie pleasures, hence the name ;).
MS: O-toro (super fatty tuna) sashimi, which can get pretty exorbitant at market price.
FP: What are some of your non-competitive eating hobbies or interests?
MS: I love hiking, kayaking, surfing, jet skiing, and skydiving. I’ve also ridden elephants, petted tiger cubs, and swum with sharks. Most of all, I love traveling and spending time with my family.
FP: That’s an adventurous list! If you could get on a plane tomorrow and visit any place just for its food, where would it be?
MS: I have not yet been to Machu Picchu or sailed down the Amazon, so I’d love to tour that area of South America.
FP: Great places to think about visiting indeed! Thanks for your time, Miki. We can’t wait to hear about your upcoming eating adventures.