BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — “Ranked eleventh in the world … could he eat 40 here today? That’s the rumor. From Normal, Illinois: Matt Hazzard!” said the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest announcer.

Just a few weeks ago, Hazzard was the talk of the town around central Illinois, taking over Coney Island one hot dog at a time.

“It’s all fun and games, but as soon as that countdown starts you’re going as fast as you can, and you want to beat everyone else at the table regardless if they are your friend or not,” said competitive eater Matt Hazzard.

“I really wanted to do well at this so I put the time in and trained year round for it. I actually ate over a thousand hot dogs in training,” said Hazzard.

Locally, he’s the reigning champ of the Childers Eatery Pancake Challenge in Peoria.

“You have to win a qualifier and they have aproximately 16 to 18 of those each year all across the Country,” said Hazzard.

This past year, Hazzard qualified in Des Moines, Iowa, shoving down 29 and a half hot dogs. And yeah, there’s a method to his madness.

“Two hot dogs, but then I’ll do one of the buns half way through,” said Hazzard. “Believe it or not, eating hot dogs for 10 minutes straight is physically exhausting. It’ll wear you out.”

Even causing him to fall short of his top five goal. Hazzard placed seventh this year at Coney Island, eating a whopping 34 dogs. Now, he’s still got a ways to go to “ketchup” to Joey Chestnut’s 71. But for now, he’s “relishing” now, and hopes to be a “wiener” in the future.

“I’m going to give it my all but at the end of the day its all for fun and I’m out there to have a good time,” said Hazzard.