For many, watching competitive eaters shove hot dogs into their mouths and viciously snarl them down is a rather unsettling and nauseating scene. However, when eating hot dogs is combined with a charitable cause, seeing them being devoured is much more tolerable.
On Sunday, August 12th, the 4th annual Leo’s Restaurant Hot Dog Eating Contest will be held for anyone interested in “eating” for a noble cause. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Special Olympics Connecticut, a nonprofit organization that provides athletic opportunities to individuals with intellectual disabilities. Participants who are interested must submit a $10 application fee and then raise at least $25 in donations from sponsors, friends and/or family. Whoever consumes the most hot dogs within 7 minutes will be declared the winner and receive a trophy along with a photo on the Leo’s “Wall of Fame”. The event takes place at 4:00 p.m. at Leo’s restaurant located on 7 Poverty Road, Southbury.
When Leo’s Restaurant owner Bob Moniz created this event three years ago, he did not know that it would evolve into a fundraiser for Special Olympics Connecticut.
“This started really as a ‘goof’,” said Moniz. “We just came up with something we wanted to do at the end of the summertime just for some fun and to get people together locally. Then I wanted to do it as a fundraiser of some kind.”
Officer John Moreno of Troop A in Southbury was friends with Moniz and suggested that the hot dog eating contest should raise money for Special Olympics. Moreno had worked with the organization in the past with fundraiser events such as the Law Enforcement Torch Run, Tip a Cop, and Cop on Top. Moniz quickly agreed to have the hot dog eating contest raise funds for Special Olympics.
“It’s been fun and successful,” said Moniz. “The last couple years we’ve raised around $2,000 every time.”
Last year, the winning hot dog total was 10. The year before that, the winning total was 14. Although many may think that they have to be hefty eaters to participate, Moniz assures that is not the case.
“People get this idea that it’s like Coney Island and you have to shove hot dogs into your mouth,” said Moniz. “It’s really not like that, though. It’s just for fun.”
In fact, one woman that participated last year was able to raise 180 dollars from sponsors. She then consumed a single hot dog in the seven minute timeframe.
“She sat back and ate a hot dog in seven minutes as quietly and calmly as she could,” said Moniz.
There is also a unique component of the contest where people’s pet dogs can compete. The dog that can consume 15 hot dogs the fastest will be declared the winner.
At the end of the day, the event only last about an hour but it allows people to come together, have fun, and donate money for an important cause.
“It’s just to have a couple laughs,” said Moniz. “But it’s also about raising the money. It’s all about the awareness of the cause and making money for the cause. To me, that’s really what it’s about.”
Check out this video of Officer John Artes eating hot dogs from last years contest!