Krystal Championship Announced

Chattanooga, Tenn., July 1, 2005 –

When Japan’s Takeru Kobayashi competed in the first ever Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship last November, the 26-year-old eating phenom arrived to the heart of the South as an interloper and left a world-record holder, stunning both the competitive eating world and a proud nation of Krystal hamburger-eating fanatics on their home turf by devouring 69 of the famous, fresh, hot, small, square hamburgers in just eight minutes. Now, lifelong lovers of the fast food icon’s signature hamburger are ready and hungry to settle the score, as The Krystal Company confirmed today initial details for the 2005 Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship.

Already declared one of the “majors” in the sport of competitive eating and distinguished as the only world hamburger-eating championship officially sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE), the Krystal Square Off will kick off once again on Labor Day, Sept. 5, in Chattanooga, with the first of 11 regional qualifying events. The qualifying circuit will criss-cross six states, from Texas to Florida, and will pit the world’s best competitive eaters against the lifelong Krystal fans who first took the sensational sport by storm last fall.

Winners of the regional qualifiers will earn a seat at the final table of the world championship event, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19 in Chattanooga, and will be competing for one of the largest cash purses offered on the U.S. competitive eating circuit. While the total money prize for this year’s main event will not be announced until later this summer, officials have confirmed that the purse will be larger than 2004’s unprecedented $17,500.

“Last year, the Krystal Square Off was the new event on the competitive eating circuit, and it instantly captured the imagination and attention of Krystal lovers and competitive eaters everywhere with more than 1,700 people competing for the 14 coveted spots at the final table. In 2005, we expect an even bigger and more competitive field,” said Mike Williams, vice president of marketing, The Krystal Company. “The Krystal brand has always been about fun, friends and enjoying our one-of-a-kind big taste food in multiples, and the Krystal Square Off embodies all of this, plus the pride and loyalty people from all across the South have for the Krystal brand.”

Commenting on the match-up between Krystal’s customers and the professional eaters who mostly reside outside Krystal country, Williams noted, “While the majority of our customers come out to the qualifiers simply to have fun, enjoy a few Krystals and watch and meet the pros, many of who have become household names, we do have a few talented customers with a special knack for putting away Krystals. Whereas last year they were fueled mainly by passion—and that alone got several to the finals, even upsetting a few of the pros—they’ve now had ample time to study and perfect the technical prowess necessary to compete, and perhaps, beat the world’s best.”

At last year’s debut Krystal Square Off, all of the IFOCE’s top eight ranked eaters, along with its #16 ranked eater, qualified for the main event, but the real story was how the amateurs took five of the 14 coveted spots. Local Krystal customers like Sam “Big Country” Vise of Union City, Tenn. earned seats by taking down top ranked eaters who boldly flew in to qualifying events with their pro stature in tow only to have it tossed aside like an empty Krystal box. Perhaps the most touted Krystal customer heading into the main event was Matt “The Psycho” Ward of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who gained an automatic entry into the final when he set the world sprint record in 2003 by putting away an astounding 21 Krystals in just two minutes.

In the end though, Takeru Kobayashi won convincingly, setting a new world hamburger-eating record by consuming 69 of the cult-craving, two and a half inch, square hamburgers in eight minutes. Kobayashi took home the top prize of $10,000 cash, the Krystal World Champion’s Belt and the champion’s crystal trophy. Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, the 102-pound phenom from Alexandria, VA, took second place and $5,000 by eating 46 Krystal hamburgers.

“The iconic stature of the Krystal burger, especially throughout the South, boosted participation to unparalleled heights and made last year’s debut one of the most highly competitive series we’ve seen anywhere in the world,” said Richard Shea, president of the IFOCE. “Now, with the worldwide attention the Krystal Square Off has achieved and the underdog, Rocky Balboa-like ambition of Krystal lovers—to overcome all odds on the path to gastro-greatness—we anticipate that the 2005 championship series will be a spectacular battle for burger eating eminence, the likes of which we’ve never seen.”

Anyone interested in competing in the 2005 Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship can find the most up-to-date information at As an officially sanctioned IFOCE event, all registration for the qualifying contests will be handled by the IFOCE through the Krystal website. Participants must be 18 years or over.

Founded in 1932, Krystal restaurants have become more than sparkling-clean eateries where friendly employees serve up fresh, delicious food. Krystal has become a cultural icon and an experience that virtually every man, woman and child in the South has shared. Nearly everyone in the region has a Krystal memory. The Krystal brand—and the great food, service, value and setting that it represents—has taken a prominent place in the South's cultural landscape. The Krystal Company is the oldest quick service restaurant chain in the South and the second oldest in the United States. The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company currently has more than 450 restaurants in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. For more information, visit

The IFOCE, the governing body of all stomach-centric sports, conducts more than 70 events annually, including the Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, NY. The competitive eating community, which numbers more than 3,000 veteran and rookie athletes, travels the nation in search of top titles such as the Krystal Square Off World Hamburger-Eating Champion.