The last time Adrian Morgan sat down at a Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest qualifier, he shoveled 38 dogs and buns down his gullet in 10 minutes. This year, he hopes to break his personal record and once again qualify for the July Fourth championship competition on Coney Island.
Morgan is ranked the seventh-best competitive eater in the world by Major League Eating, the governing body of all stomach-centric sports. The 26-year-old from Baton Rouge, La., will be at the qualifier in downtown Savannah on June 7, where fellow gluttons for gastrointestinal punishment can test their speed-eating chops. The top male and top female finishers will earn a spot to compete in the ESPN-televised finals in New York.
"It's like our Super Bowl," Morgan said. "As a competitive eater, that's where you want to be."
Morgan has qualified for the championship three times since he began competitively eating in 2010, and is considered one of MLE's rising stars.
"I've always been a big eater," he said. A fan of the television show "Man v. Food," in which host Adam Richman takes on restaurant challenges, Morgan would attempt similar feats. Scarf down a 3-pound burger and get it for free? Not a problem.
When Morgan discovered MLE was hosting a peanut butter-banana sandwich-eating contest in his area, he signed up.
"I was super nervous. I had seen all these guys eat hot dogs on ESPN before," he said. "I wasn't really used to speed eating, but I did all right."
Morgan ate 18.5 peanut butter-banana sandwiches in 10 minutes, which he said was sticky and slow going. Drinking water is only allowed for hot dog-eating events.
After his first official competition, Morgan was hooked. He usually enters one competition a month, gorging on everything from hot dogs to wings to oysters. Morgan once bested Joey Chestnut, the No. 1 eater in the world and Nathan's hot dog-eating record holder (68 hot dogs in 10 minutes), in a hard-boiled egg eating contest.
Morgan was first with 20 eggs in 84 seconds. This feat sometimes makes people compare Morgan to Paul Newman choking down 50 hard-boiled eggs in the movie "Cool Hand Luke."
He gets the line, "Nobody can eat 50 eggs," every so often, he said.
"I always remind them of when Joey ate 141 of them in eight minutes (at the World Egg-Eating Championship)."
To train for the Nathan's qualifier, Morgan practices with oatmeal, eating 10-12 pounds in one sitting once or twice a week.
"It kind of helps put that mass in my stomach without all the calories," he said.
Each Nathan's Famous hot dog and bun has 290 calories, 17 grams of fat and 710 milligrams of sodium. If Morgan breaks his record of 38 hot dogs this year, he will consume more than 11,020 calories, 4,930 grams of fat and 26,980 milligrams of sodium.
It's unhealthy, but competitive eaters' bodies are conditioned to it, Morgan said. "We can handle the food. All of it isn't absorbed by the body; most of it is wasted. You just deal with it for like a day."
Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.