Bob Shoudt: A Protein Dream

Since then, Shoudt’s life has taken a traditional course. At 38 years of age, he is currently a computer systems administrator living in Philadelphia with his wife Beth and three children Noah, Bailey, and Molly. Day to day life allowed him to nearly forget the celebrity he enjoyed during his matriculation.

The recollections of college glory returned bright as day, however, when he watched a program on the Nathan’s Famous International July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2002.

“I knew I had to get into Nathan’s,” said Shoudt. “No matter what it took.”

Among other things, it would take the consumption of meat, which is tricky for the Shoudts, who are vegetarians. No meat is prepared in the house; no meat is consumed in or out of the house. Shoudt realized he’d need to eat more than pizza and greens to reach the top ranks of the sport. And for this, he’d have to ask permission. His wife Beth, a psychologist, analyzed the situation and agreed to let her husband abandon his vegetarianism, but only in the context of competitive eating.

Shoudt immediately entered his first hot dog eating contest, a Nathan’s qualifier held in Philadelphia. He didn’t make it to Coney Island that year and, unfortunately for him, his second attempt occurred during the first appearance of the now-legendary Sonya Thomas.

With a personal best of 16 hot dogs and buns, Shoudt is now more concentrated than ever to get into the 2005 Nathan’s Famous Coney Island spectacular. In the meantime, he has upped his consumption of protein. He posted respectable performances in the Tropicana Meatball Eating Championship and tackled the 9-lb. Barrick Burger Challenge in Las Vegas. His friend Jerry is coaching him on technique and monitoring his consumption of water and vegetables. Shoudt is also chewing a lot of gum.

Up next for the one-time pizza champ of Ursinus is the famed Philadelphia Wing Bowl. This Mardi-Gras-esque event occurs in his hometown, so his wife, parents and friends will be on hand to support him.

“Probably best if the kids sit this one out,” said Shoudt. “But I’ll have Beth.”

And as Adrian was to Rocky, Beth will be to Bob.

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