updated 10/9/2006 10:22:02 AM ET 2006-10-09T14:22:02

A 62-year-old retired accountant from Nevada swallowed 247 peppers in eight minutes to win the Jalapeño Eating World Championship at the State Fair of Texas.

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Richard LeFevre won $2,000 for prevailing in Sunday's contest, which was sponsored by the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

"I love to eat, and I love to compete, so the two go pretty well together," said LeFevre, the world's eighth-ranked eater according to the federation.

LeFevre, who has also won the fair's World Corny Dog Eating Contest three times, said his winning strategy was to mix three or four peppers in his mouth with a swig of milk before swallowing.

LeFevre was one of four professional eaters who took the top four places in the competition.

Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas said she had never eaten a jalapeño before the contest. Ranked third in the world by the federation, she downed 239 peppers to take second place and $1,000 in prize money.

Christopher Huang, of Arlington, entered the competition even though he doesn't normally eat spicy foods.

"I eat mild salsa," Huang said. "But there's nothing like putting yourself through a lot of pain for no reason."

The 26-year-old required several minutes of recovery time after eating 53 jalapeños.

"I can't feel my face," he said when he was able to speak again.

'It's really pretty stupid,' physician says
Dr. Daniel DeMarco, a gastroenterologist and director of endoscopy at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, said the amount of jalapeños consumed in an eating contest is more harmful than the burn.

"It's really pretty stupid," DeMarco said. "Like any sort of abuse of your body, it doesn't make any sense."

He said long-term complications are unlikely, but there are some risks.

"If they get sick, they're going to be vomiting it up, and that can cause esophageal tears," he said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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