Gravy Wins, LaRue Loses, Super Paul Disappoints

At 11:40AM on Saturday, May 15, a silver sports car pulled into the expansive parking lot of Junction Lanes in Newnan, Georgia. Behind the wheel was a resurgent Joe LaRue, a 6' 2" man who had left his house in Kentucky seven hours earlier. Exiting his car, LaRue quickly exhibited a champion's swagger. One fan mentioned that the style of LaRue's gait was similar to what Phil Mickelson displayed as he approached 18 at Augusta on a sunny Sunday earlier this spring.

Georgia eating fans gathered in force to witness a resurgent Joe LaRue. They'd read about his victory in Sweet Corn and drove to Junction Lanes to watch a confident man regain his position in the top ranks of Major League Eating. If it happened in West Palm it could happen in Newnan.

To be fair, some fans came to cheer on Atlanta's most famous eater, Super Paul Barlow (who suffered a tough outing), and others assembled had simply stumbled on the event, their plans centered on bowling a few strings. But bowling would wait. In all, 15 eaters were introduced. LaRue was second from last.

When the buzzer sounded at 1pm, LaRue stood tall and ate well. After 10 minutes, however, confidence, did not win the day. The reviled Gravy Brown, who had been announced last and taken the stage to ABBA's Dancing Queen and a cacophony of boos, won the contest with 28 HDBs.

After the event, LaRue was quick to congratulate Gravy and announced to the crowd that his second place performance (27 HDBs in 10 minutes) was a personal best. LaRue finished his remarks with a loud "I'll see you all in Charlotte!"

While it's unlikely any of the Newnan fans will be in Charlotte for the Nathan's Famous qualifier on June 19, by saying "see you in Charlotte" LaRue made a clear statement to anyone listening. That statement translates to "I am back baby, and I'm better than ever."

The thinker: