As a rule, 26-year-old Randy Santel eats all the typical healthy foods – fruits, vegetables and lean meats.

As a rule, 26-year-old Randy Santel eats all the typical healthy foods – fruits, vegetables and lean meats.


There are exceptions to every rule, though, and for Santel, those exceptions exist in food-eating contests like the one Thursday evening on the Independence Square. That is where Santel, of Overland Park, Kan., won the hot dog eating contest for the second year in a row, downing 16 hot dogs – complete with the buns – in 10 minutes, five fewer than he ate in the same time frame in 2011.


Santel doesn’t like the part of an extreme eater, but he’s got titles in 14 states under his belt. On Thursday, despite the hot temperatures even at 7:30 p.m., he wore a wool stocking cap. His headphones blared a personalized mix of Miley Cyrus, Avril Lavigne, Rihanna and other well-known pop artists. He dunked his hot dogs in low-calorie energy drinks that he brought himself.


About 20 participants – some professional, some novices, but all boys or men – showed up for the third annual hot dog eating contest sponsored by UpDog and the McClain Restaurant Group. All proceeds from the event, which the McClains’ summer interns organized, go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.


“The more we do these things for the community, the better Independence will be,” Square business owner Cindy McClain said. “We just need to do more of these things for the community.”


Cindy’s husband and Independence lawyer Ken McClain joked before Thursday’s competition that he would not make a good participant in a hot dog eating contest.


“It’s pretty grueling,” he said. “I haven’t trained for it.”


Some participants didn’t train, either. Although he ate just two hot dogs throughout the contest, Jason Roth had a broader reason for showing up: He is the director of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.


“Since this was something promoting our organization, I, at least, wanted to show up and have a representative in the actual contest,” Roth said. “I could’ve eaten more, but there was no way I was going to compete with (Santel).”


As for the pro, Santel plans to devote his $300 cash prize toward entering other contests. His ultimate goal? To be able to participate in food-eating challenges and contests professionally. He maintains a website at randysantel.com and even has a business – Atlas & Zeus Promotions LLC – dedicated to his love of food challenges and restaurants.


But in the meantime, he’ll keep eating a clean diet and exercising regularly.


“My main goal is to try to prove to people that you can still eat like crap,” Santel said, “but if you’re dedicated and eat healthy, you can still splurge.”