First Showdown of the Year at Hot Springs Corned Beef Eating Contest

Competitive eaters from all over the country including Dallas, Chicago and Baton Rouge, will face-off at the Hot Springs International Corned Beef Eating Championship in Arkansas on Saturday - the first championship of the new year. The contest will feature the top two-ranked US gurgitators Sonya Thomas and Joey Chestnut chowing down on Oaklawn's famous corned beef sandwiches, a Hot Springs culinary staple.

The Thomas and Chestnut match up is expected to set the tone for the following week's Big Daddy Burger Contest at the Plaza Casino in Las Vegas and the year to come.

“I expect nothing short of an epic battle for this coveted title,” said George Shea.

“Hot Springs is already famous as Arkansas’s dining capital, with 226 local restaurants,” said Steve Arrison, executive director of the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Oaklawn’s corned beef is a huge hit and has been called among the best in the world.”

Eaters will have a chance to win $5,000 in prize money at the Hot Springs Convention Center which includes a top prize of $3,000. Other contestants looking to get off to a strong start in 2006 are rookies Patrick Bertoletti and Chip Simpson, and local brothers Tyler and Tim Shuffield. There will also be a local celebrity event preceeding the championship.