OTTUMWA — In 2018, Gideon Oji took home the first Major League Eating title given in the Canteen-eating contest. He’ll be back this year, and he’ll face a famous competitor.
Oji downed 18.5 sandwiches last year. MLE ranks Oji No. 6 in the world. He won’t be the highest-ranked competitor, though. The Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce announced Monday morning Joey Chestnut, the top-ranked competitive eater in the world, will take part.
Chestnut drew a crowd in February when he signed autographs at the Chamber’s home show. He said at the time he hoped he would be able to compete for the Canteen crown. But he had to look at whether it would conflict with the Nathan’s Hot Dog contest, the biggest event on the MLE calendar and one Chestnut has won several times.
This year’s Canteen contest takes place at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 1. Up to a dozen competitors will take part, chasing a total purse of $4,000.