In honor of National Cheeseburger Day on Tuesday, Bethesda’s BGR: The Burger Joint will be challenging eight to 10 hungry souls to eat as many cheeseburger sliders as their stomachs can handle in a 10-minute timeframe.
Each contestant will sit behind a pile of 50 cheese sliders and compete to win a cash prize. Contestants will also have a chance to qualify for the national finals, which will be held in Washington, DC, on National Hamburger Day in May.
“We’re having various qualifying rounds at BGRs all around the country. Then next year we’ll have the world championship in Washington, DC, very similar to the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island,” said BGR owner Mark Bucher. “Then we will make it an annual thing every year on National Cheeseburger Day.”
Bucher was unable to find a world slider eating championship, so he said BGR wanted to take the event into its own hands. BGR is known for its fun giveaways and contests -- like challenging adventurous eaters to finish a nine-pound burger -- but this will be the first competitive eating competition the DC-based burger joint will host.
BGR is known for their crazy burger names as well, such as the “Snooki” burger and the “Charlie Sheen” burger. When Jersey Shore star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi gave birth to her baby boy Lorenzo, BGR offered a free mini slider with the purchase of the “Snooki” burger.
BGR looks to see who is in the news or who they can poke fun at for new name ideas, Bucher said. The chain is featuring Obama and Romney burgers starting next week for the November election.
“It’s just fun. I tend to not take the restaurant business too seriously,” Bucher said. “When asked I say I’m in the happiness business, not the restaurant business. If I can put a smile on someone’s face it’s worthwhile.”
Participants and their cheerleaders can expect the eating contest to go on rain or shine. So how should one prepare for the event? The answer is up in the air, according to Bucher.
“The funny thing is that the skinniest ones are always the ones that win these things and I don’t know how they do it. Some people say eat a huge dinner and a huge breakfast to stretch your stomach but I don’t know,” Bucher said. “I would probably say fast before—just come hungry!”
The competition starts at 12 p.m. on Tuesday. The lineup of participants is already set, but patrons will still get a chance to watch the competition.
The first place winner will receive a $500 cash prize as well as the chance to compete against four other regional BGR winners in the national finals on National Hamburger Day on Tuesday, May 28. The second place winner will receive a $250 gift card to BGR, and the third place winner will receive a $100 BGR gift card.
“Everyone needs to have fun. It’s the end of a great summer and everyone needs to break away from their lunch hour and come watch this in Bethesda,” Bucher said. “Go out of your way to enjoy a great cheeseburger. After all, it is an American pastime.”
BGR: The Burger Joint is located at 4827 Fairmont Ave. in Bethesda. For more information on BGR, visit the BGR website.