Carlene LeFevre, a petite elementary schoolteacher from Henderson, Nev., has a wild side.
She can consume more hot dogs in 12 minutes than any man or woman in Arizona or just about anywhere else in the world — and she proved it again Saturday during the state’s annual Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest at Arizona Mills mall in Tempe, an event sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating.
"When the buzzer goes off, I turn into an animalistic beast," said LeFevre, who dodged questions about her age and weight. "It’s the most grueling 12 minutes of my life."
This year LeFevre swallowed 16 hot dogs and buns before the clock expired — short of her personal best of 21 or the world record of 50 — but good enough to defend her Arizona title and earn an all-expenses-paid return trip to the 89th annual Nathan’s Famous International hot dog eating contest on July 4 at Coney Island in New York.
Curly Young of Phoenix finished second in Arizona by eating 9 3/4 hot dogs, and Jack Quintrall of Surprise finished third by eating 9 1 /2 hot dogs.
LeFevre prepared for the contest by eating lightly and drinking extra water starting on Friday.
Although LeFevre is the ninth-ranked hot dog eater in the world, she is not the fastest eater in her home. Her 60-year-old husband, Richard — who also is thin — is the world’s fourthranked hot dog eater.
The couple discovered their joint talent for competitive eating on a trip through Texas about 13 years ago, when they earned free meals at a steakhouse after polishing off the largest steaks on the menu.
Most of the time, however, LeFevre said she and her husband are nutrition and exercise nuts.
"If you could see our fridge at home, we eat healthy," LeFevre said. "Otherwise we would have to join the circus."