By Joseph Robertia
Levi “The Leviathan” Morris achieved gustatory greatness again Saturday during the sixth annual Kasilof Mercantile’s competitive eating contest, seemingly inhaling 12 hot dogs and their buns in 10 minutes; making this Morris’ third win in a row.
Prior to hot dogs this year, Morris, of Kasilof, also claimed victory in last year’s competition when he gulped down 29 hard-boiled eggs, while the year before he scarfed 10 ½ of the mini-hamburgers known as sliders.
“It was slower than the eggs because of the buns. They made it hard to eat too fast,” he said.
Rocky Laster, organizer of the annual event, offered $150 for first place in the competition and a whopping $1,500 to anyone who beat the standing world record of 68 hot dogs, set during the 2012 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest by Joey “Jaws” Chestnut. While Morris’ win didn’t come close to breaking the record, he did employ a technique often used in the larger national event.
“Dunking,” as it is known, is when eaters dunk their buns in the glass of water provided, to allow them to absorb water, making them easier to swallow quickly. Some of the other half-dozen eaters in Saturday’s local competition also employed the “Solomon method” of separating the hot dogs from buns, snapping the dogs in two, then eating both halves at once.
Laster isn’t just the organizer, he annually takes part in the speed-eating festivities, and this year was no exception. Fourth in last year’s egg-eating competition, Laster was able to move up one position, taking third with seven hot dogs this season, right behind second-place finisher Brad Guth, of Kasilof, who ate just half a dog more.
Immediately following the event, someone in the crowd of spectators asked Laster, who is a large man
himself, why he let the younger Levi win. To which Laster replied, “I didn’t let him do anything. I did my best to stop him.”
Laster began noticing Morris pulling away from him during the competition and tried to heckle the defending champ to throw him off his game. At one point Laster told Morris that the water he was dunking his buns in was the same water the dogs were boiled in that morning, but Morris could not be slowed or stopped.
Rocky wasn’t the only Laster in the competition. This year his wife, Destiny, joined in, and was assisted by their 3-year-old daughter, Ruby, who helped her mom munch. Together they only ate four hot dogs, but it was enough to claim fourth place.
Morris’ penchant for cramming food fast comes without a care about the calories. He said that his size has something to do with it. While only 26 years old, he is 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 320 pounds.
“I’ve been this big practically my whole life,” he said. “My parents claim it was all the milk I drank. I used to go through a gallon a day,” he said.
Morris added that there’s not much he won’t eat. The only exception is calamari — squid. He said the consistency of the tentacled treat is off-putting for him.
Laster joked that he might have to remember this when planning next year’s eating competition, but in seriousness said that he would likely continue with more traditional competitive-eating fare.
“Levi’s won three in a row, and the previous winner has won three in a row, so I was thinking of maybe holding a head-to-head competition this summer, maybe on July 4, to see who the true champ will be,” Laster said.
Editor’s note: The first three eating contest were won by the Redoubt Reporter’s own reporter Joseph Robertia who swallowed spaghetti for his first two victories and ice cream in his third.
As for what will be on the menu for the decisive summer event, Laster said he wasn’t certain, but was leaning toward something American to fit the occasion.
“It could be hot dogs again, or maybe pie,” he said, but added that watermelon wasn’t out of the question.