By ROD LEE
An electronics teacher may be Geoffrey Esper’s principal occupation, but increasingly the 47-year-old, 195-pound resident of Oxford is better known as a Major League Eating dynamo.
Mr. Esper’s most recent accomplishment was finishing second to the world-famous Joey “Jaws” Chestnut in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island over the Fourth of July weekend. He downed forty-three hot dogs and buns to Mr. Chestnut’s sixty-three.
Geoffrey Esper of Oxford is a regular contestant at Major League Eating events; here he is shown chowing wings, and taking part in a qualifying round.
Reflecting on what has become a second career for him over the past half dozen or so years, Mr. Esper told The Yankee Xpress on July 7th, as he did CBS News shortly after the competition (“I’m a little bit puffy”) that he was still recovering from the exertion involved.
To the irresistible ask “are you familiar with Carl’s?” a diner on Main Street in Oxford that is justly celebrated for the enormous portions of food it doles out to patrons for breakfast and lunch, Mr. Esper said “sure. One time I went in there and put in seven orders for pancakes, thirty-some pancakes.”
Now a star on the Major League Eating circuit, he says “I always liked watching it on TV, and I could always eat a lot.”
Hot dogs are not part of his regular diet, however.
“What I eat is not very glamorous,” he said. “Tuna fish, chicken breast and vegetables.”
A humble and modest man (“I don’t get too busy” with calls of congratulations), he is nevertheless an individual Major League Eating likes to tout. Most of the “positive feedback” he receives comes from kids who are impressed, and on TikTok.
“He is a true multi-disciplinary eater—as comfortable eating 83 slices of John’s Incredible Pizza in 10 minutes as he is eating 281 Hooters wings in the same amount of time,” Major League Eating brags of him on its website. “He is the 2017 and 2019 Hooters wing-eating champion and winner of the Fortune Bay Taco and Jack’s Donuts Donut Holes contests. As of July 2022, he holds 14 world records.”
His forays with Major League Eating take Geoffrey Esper far and wide. Earlier this year, he downed 32 ¼ egg rolls in eight minutes in the inaugural Outlaws Egg Rolls World Egg Roll Eating Championship in Lubbock, Texas. Chomping that many four-ounce fried tubes filled with ground beef and macaroni and cheese was made even harder in 100-degree heat as “the first crunches rang out,” the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.
“I’ve already had eight contests this year, and eight more are coming up,” Mr. Esper said, of a season that runs from April to November. Many of these are conducted out of doors. In the days and weeks ahead he will be taking on banana pudding and ribs.
Mr. Esper and Joey Chestnut are not exactly bosom buddies, but they are respectful of one another’s talent.
“I talk to him, I see him at contests,” Mr. Esper says. He was standing alongside Mr. Chestnut at Coney Island and got bumped when his archrival put a protester who came on stage into a headlock, while hardly missing a beat chowing down hot dogs. As someone who usually keeps his eyes closed while eating, Mr. Esper opened them only when his concentration was broken by the commotion.
Major League Eating (MLE) stages approximately seventy events a year. MLE developed competitive eating as a sport and includes the sport’s governing body, The International Federation of Competitive Eating. Original content from MLE contests has aired on ESPN, MTV, The Travel Channel, Spike TV, Discovery and The Bio Channel.
Geoffrey Esper is considered one of MLE’s top stars along with Joey Chestnut, Matt Stonie, Miki Sudo, and Eric “Badlands” Booker.