What's more American than eating burgers in the nation's capital? Eating 26 burgers in the nation's capital.
And that's just what Molly Schuyler did Thursday afternoon at the Z-Burger annual eating contest, beating out her all-male competition to become the first woman to take home the title.
"Girls don't do this kind of stuff," Schuyler told ABC News. "They don't like to get greasy and dirty but I guess I don't care. I'm a mom. My kids throw food at me all the time." The Nebraska native and mother of four is the top-ranked independent female competitive eater in the world.
In the blistering summer heat, as spectators crowded the sidewalk, 14 contestants from around the country squared off in a ten-minute battle of appetites. In true American spirit, competitors were of all ages and creeds - from 130 lb., 18-year-old amateur eater Stephen "Stonetooth" Alexander to 300 lb. competitive eater Dale "Mouth of the South" Boone, just back from an eating tour of Asia.
"This is just like baseball," Boone said, adding that every contest is different. "Your body changes, the physics change, the food changes."
But in the end, all eyes were on Schuyler to see whether she could knock off Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, the defending champion, who last year put away a record 28 burgers.
Schuyler and Bertoletti went burger for burger, downing water to make the hamburgers go down faster, but by burger 12 Schuyler was narrowly in the lead. Schuyler beat out the reigning champion by one patty. The crowd cheered and chanted her name as she was awarded a trophy and $1,500 for top prize.
"People like to see each other do things that they shouldn't be able to do," she said after the contest. "So I guess stuffing a bunch of burgers in your face is awesome and it kind of is actually." No rest for the weary - Schuyler competes tomorrow at an eating contest on Coney Island, New York.
This was the sixth year for the Z-Burger Annual Independence Burger Eating Championship. Co-Founder and CEO Peter Tabibian said Independence Day is best American holiday and "what better way to celebrate it than a burger eating contest?" Spectators seemed to agree and were all treated to free hamburgers after the competition.