By Steven Powell / The Marysville Globe
MARYSVILLE — Let’s be frank: Katie Prettyman of Marysville is not a wiener when it comes to eating hot dogs.
In her first year of competitive eating, she went all the way to nationals. And she qualified again in this, her second year.
Prettyman, 36, grew up in New Mexico and moved to Marysville about seven years ago. She manages the Red Cross volunteer service department for the state.
She started watching YouTube videos on competitive eating a few years ago and found them fascinating.
“So last year, instead of making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, it was to do competitive eating,” she said. “I love hot dogs.”
She said most people think it’s pretty cool, but, “My husband was slightly horrified. He typically doesn’t watch me.”
Prettyman trains for events by eating large quantities of vegetables.
“I’ve always been able to eat quite a bit,” she said, adding she has a treadmill in front of their TV to work it off.
Before her first competition in Vallejo, California, last year, she ate 10 hot dogs and buns in five minutes on her first try. The best she did in practice was 12 in 10 minutes. But at regionals, she won by eating 14½.
“I was surprised with how well I did,” she said.
Prettyman said she doesn’t eat so much that she throws up, or “reversed” as competitive eaters call it.
“I push myself but that’s never the end goal,” she said. “I’m not comfortable, but that typically does not happen.”
She said she uses the “Solomon Method,” breaking the hot dog in half then using liquid to chase the bun down.
Prettyman said she has to pay her own way to qualifying events, but once under contract with Major League Eating they get their flights and hotels paid for.
She didn’t say anything about meals.
Since she’s under contract, she also competed in other eating events: tamales in Texas and croqueta in Miami. She and her daughter also competed in the recent Strawberry Shortcake Eating Contest in Marysville. Isabau, 12, actually won the age 11-13 division.
Prettyman, whose favorite foods are mac and cheese and Indian curry, said her hope is to improve the women’s scores so they are closer to the men’s to “get some more recognition.”
As for her goal: “Stay hungry and focus. That applies to life in general, not just competitive eating.”
Prettyman will compete Thursday in Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot-Dog Eating Championship in Coney Island, New York.
Prettyman is the 36th ranked competitive eater in the world, up from 42nd last year. She qualified in Cincinnati by eating 14 hot dogs and buns.
Men and women from all over the world competed at 15 other locations for a spot at the table.
Some 35,000 fans are expected. The competition will be nationally broadcast starting at 11 a.m. on ESPN3. The men’s contest will follow on ESPN2.
Last year, Joey Chestnut of San Jose set a world record by consuming 74 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. In the women’s competition, Miki Sudo of Las Vegas took first place, marking her fifth consecutive win by eating 37. The women’s world record is 45.
A total of 18 men and 18 women are expected to compete.
Each contest offers $20,000 in cash prizes, with half going to each winner. Prize money goes down to sixth place.
The contest began in 1916.