By Megan Horst-Hatch

Do the nicknames “The Black Widow” or “Jaws” ring a bell? They do for those who follow the high-stakes world of competitive eating. Descriptive nicknames, like big appetites, come with the territory. Some competitive eaters pay homage to their background. Others reference their skills and prowess at the table. Tailgate Fan understands the importance of a good origin story, so let’s look at how some competitive eaters got their nicknames.

Valerie “Valkyrie” Bromann

Asserting yourself as a formidable competitive eater is part of the fun of picking a good nickname. For up-and-coming competitive eater Valerie Bromann, using the sobriquet of “Valkyrie” is fitting. In an interview with Tailgate Fan earlier this year, Bromann explained the story behind her nickname. “[Valkyrie] is a woman of Norse mythology and is the woman who decides who lives and dies in battle. It’s a good name for going into a hot dog battle,” she said.

Meredith “Deep Fried Diva” Boxberger

When it comes to creating a nickname on the competitive eating circuit, it helps to tip your hat to your strengths. Meredith Boxberger, who is one of the top 20 competitive eaters as ranked by Major League Eating, is known as the “Deep Fried Diva.” “I do well with deep-fried food,” she explained in her Tailgate Fan interview.

Read more about competitive eating.

Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas

A cute play on words or invoking a higher power is fine when choosing a nickname. But if you want a more formidable name, consider taking a page out of Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas’ book. Comparing herself to the black widow spider, Thomas writes on her website that she wants to beat her male opponents and win when she gets behind the table. It must work since Thomas is the current record holder for women for Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, with 45 hot dogs eaten.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut

Sometimes, a well-chosen monosyllabic name is all you need to get your point across. In an online chat with Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, he revealed he got his nickname from a competitor after a waffle-eating contest. Chestnut is the current second-ranked competitive eater according to Major League Eating. He was recently dethroned by Matt Stonie.

How to create a nickname of your own

While it isn’t necessary to create a nickname of your own when participating in a competitive eating contest, how else will you strike fear in the hearts of your opponents? You can give a nod to your favorite foods, your background and, perhaps, your competitive-eating style. And it might gain you some added attention from the crowd when you step behind the table. Consider creating a nickname that rhymes with a favorite food, or even taking a pop culture icon’s name and giving it a culinary twist. Keep your nickname short, simple and easy to pronounce. After all, an announcer might be shouting it into a microphone. Finally, take a few seconds to Google your potential nickname to ensure it isn’t already used by another competitive eater.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at


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