'Suzilla' debuts as TV's newest extreme eater
December 23rd, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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Among friends, competitive eater  Suzanne "Suzilla" French is known for extreme behavior. Whatever she does, she does big, be it eating or drinking,  showing her love for country or pro-football.

She's the fourth-ranked competitive eater in the world - the kind of person who parties hard on Flag Day and decks her Facebook profile picture with the New Orleans Saints' logo. The last time I saw her, before she left Atlanta for her hometown of Houston, was in the back of a stretch limo that she'd rented for a mutual friend's birthday. I joined them after they'd spent the day at Medieval Times - a gorge-fest in its own right. Bottles of booze spilled forth as the car flew around town, making stops at bars where French knew everyone. I can't remember how it ended.

For its new extreme eating special, Discovery's Planet Green channel capitalized on her "girl-next-door consumes gargantuan portions of food" shtick. "Suzilla: The Mouth That Roars" follows the 28-year-old as she takes on men at least twice her size in eating competitions in some of the country's greasiest spoons and short-order eateries.

She took a few minutes out of her day job as a contract lawyer for an oilfield services company to talk about how she manages to not look like a competitive eater and the two kinds of food she refuses to eat.

Emanuella Grinberg: How is your show different from other food challenges?

Suzilla: The competition part - because it's me versus another guy, and I'm a girl that can eat a lot.

EG: How did you get the nickname Suzilla?

Suzilla: An old friend used to call me Su-nami because I was always such a whirlwind. So when I started eating, my brother thought it would be neat if I was like Shaq and had a bunch of nicknames. So he came up with Suzilla and a variety of others. Suzilla stuck because it’s the most intimidating.

EG: How did you get started in competitive eating?

Suzilla: My car broke down when I was working as a tax attorney in Atlanta [in 2009]. It broke down around the time my student loan came up, so I had to pay $800 for the car. Corndogorama and was being held so I thought okay, that's where I'll get the money. It worked.

EG: What's the biggest misconception about competitive eating?

Suzilla: That the bigger you are, the more you can eat when really it’s people that are super skinny that can eat a lot because their stomachs expand.

EG: What's the most difficult food to eat?

Suzilla: The hardest thing to eat is anything covered in sugar because it gives you the worst hangover. It dehydrates and takes all the moisture out of your body.

EG: What's the most you've eaten in one sitting?

Suzilla: In one sitting I actually ate the pie in the sky in Alpharetta, Georgia with a buddy. I ate the majority of it, about 8 to 12 slices. It had pepperoni, sausage, ham, hamburger, it was just completely filled with meat and cheese.

EG: What's your favorite food?

Suzilla: I love McDonald's, I love a double cheeseburger, and Olive Garden because they have the never ending pasta bowl. And it's super healthy.

EG: How do you maintain your "compact frame," to quote the New York Times?

Suzilla: I run, run, run, run, run. I probably work out an hour in the morning and then an hour to two hours a night so I run seven to 14 miles a day, plus sit-ups and push-ups. I don't really like weights.

EG: What's the biggest challenge you've ever faced in the competitive eating realm?

Suzilla: The Big Fat Fatty was the only one I couldn't finish. I went out to L.A. by the UCLA campus, there's a sandwich shop there run by three guys, they have this one massive sandwich that they came up with at the end of a cleanse, it's like their wet dream of a sandwich. It has everything.

They say it can feed ten people and if you finish it they'll name a sandwich after you, but you have to do it in 40 minutes, and all I could think was, there's no way I could chew this much in 40 minutes.

EG: What's a regular day's worth of meals for you?

Suzilla: In real life, pretty normal. I had granola for breakfast, green chili and corn bisque soup and chicken salad wrap for lunch, and for dinner I'll probably have pasta because I'm lazy.

EG: What advice would you give to an aspiring competitive eater?

Suzilla: Make sure you have a good workout plan in place because when you eat eight pounds of food you tend to gain eight pounds.

EG: How do people generally react to you as a female at eating competitions?

Suzilla: They don’t know what to expect, which is really good for the competition because no one pays attention to the girl. So I just get to win the money. But it’s always a look of doubt.

EG: Does a huge appetite run in the family?

Suzilla: I think it might because my dad took used to take my brother and me to a place where they had a fried chicken buffet called Hartz's and my mom would never go because she thought it was disgusting.

EG: What does your family make of all this?

Suzilla: My brother is so proud [laughs]. I feel I've like done really great things in life, I ran a marathon, went to law school, the London School of Economics, and this is the thing that he’s most proud of. And then my mom and dad are just like, don’t quit your day job.

EG: Among people who know you, is this kind of outsized eating out of character for you?

Suzilla: No, they expect me to do absolutely ridiculous things. It's just my personality, I always like do thing out of the box and toe the line.

EG: What are your hopes for the show?

Suzilla: It was super-fun to do. It could continue but I don't know how likely it is. I have no expectations, it was just fun to do. It's every little's girl dream, to eat for money.

EG: Is there anything you won't eat?

Suzilla: Watermelon Jolly Ranchers and grapefruits. I got grapefruit juice in my eye when I was nine. I've never fully recovered. Watermelon Jolly Ranchers are the worst and smell awful.

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    May 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
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    November 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  3. lennixe

    Another example of American waste and being popular for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

    December 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  4. Genie in the Bottle

    What's the point? I'll be in pain for days afterwards..

    December 26, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  5. BeerBrewerDan

    That's some seriously poor editing.

    December 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  6. enoch100

    She eat two much.

    December 26, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  7. ljhays

    We've reached a new low in this country when we consider being able to eat a lot a talent.

    December 25, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  8. Rhonda Evans

    Why don't you approve my comments?

    December 25, 2011 at 2:02 am |
  9. Rhonda Evans

    Go to this site to listen to some nice Christmas songs: http://beautifulbrian.com/xmas.html.

    I do not care for the rest of his site, but I like his voice.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:18 am |
  10. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociationsInc,Int'l Intst'r

    I beleive suzi isn't that skinny as shown in the picture. but that's good if you can eat a lot and not gain weight or get sick doing it. except if i had to do too much jogging etc. in order to eat a lot i wouldn't bother. i did much much dancing cause i loved dancing but it had no relationship much to my eating interests. and sang a lot in my privacy.
    i do consider overeating sinful though and gluttonous but if it doesn't put on weight couldn't be that sinful. lot like dancing too much or singing too much. doing too much knitting or hobby crafts as model making etc. fanatic interests. i used to call myself a fanatical dieter. but i had to be because my organs were damaged and i had to improve my own health condition because medical persons were aggravatingly useless and abusive. something silly of a hobby involvement is puzzle work art, because i think that is a craziness preoccupation. i cringe at the thought of putting puzzles together. i think i have done one in my life at home. i despise them. wasteful time too much waste. they should be designed for assembly using a different system – maybe with bigger pieces and 3-D forms or releif surfaces etc. – make them interesting to do not torture water dropping on the forehead for days kind of emotional involvement. not those stamp size pieces that are so small and all look alike in groups of three to five colors. it's so upsetting to think many are pushed as well in to working on puzzle picture assembly for a hobby. they make victims of mental abuse do those a lot – they are crazy for forcing more abuse into crazy behaviour preoccupation. i can't even stand those newspaper puzzles much either. puzzle books you buy in stores are often too simpleton. either way it is a waste of production time. it never improves my intelligence to do those. it is better to read and analyze more news etc. And i am an involved and complicated brainy thinker. i read a lot of media but i can't seem to do those news puzzles. i lose patience. then i don't like playing cards and stuff like that either, which many of those same persons do.i spend my time on profession bulding.
    The more refined indulgence in food is what i did some of and that is as a restaurant critic columnist, plus i come from a restaurant family plus have many food related inventions and creations, and research. i also do safety and health inspection a lot as well.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Rhonda Evans

      Ma boy ... you have much to learn about competitive eating. You are forgiven, however, for your lack of knowledge, as it is in its burgeoning stages.

      December 24, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • LaughingGirl


      December 25, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • sockpuppet

      you should go see a licensed clinical therapist...you appear to have some sort of mental disorder.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Sweetenedtea

      I was wondering about the perspective of the photo myself, so I Googled and, as far as I can tell, she actually seems pretty trim.

      December 26, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • whada

      you are a nutjob. wow

      January 1, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  11. Rhonda Evans

    All viewers should be informed that her # 4 World Ranking is bogus. Since this link is hyperlinked in the story above, do go to http://www.wloce.com and check out the rankings. See who is ranked # 1–Dale Boone. See who is ranked # 2–The legend himself, Takeru Kobayashi. Dale Boone has never even come close to outeating Takeru Kobayashi, who was a 6-time July 4th Nathan's Famous Hot dog-Eating Champion on Coney Island, NYC. It is laughable mentioning those two in the same sentence, unless you're talking extremes.

    Kobayashi himself has been unable to beat 5-time and current World Champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut the top male eater in the world. Sonya Thomas is his female counterpart, winning the women's division at Nathan's on July 4th. Just go to http://www.ifoce.com and check out who ESPN (and anyone who knows anything about competitive eating) recognizes as the only legitimate competitive eating organization.

    December 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  12. Rhonda Evans

    'Zilla is certainly the best female eater on a television program, and she is cute and entertaining! Gosh, darn it, I wonder how she would stack up against Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas (just google her), "The Lovely" Juliet Lee, or Stephanie Torres, even though she is considered the #4-ranked eater in the world (by whom?).

    Self-proclaimed World Champion Dale Boone has been beaten (and badly) by Sonya Thomas and on several occasions the poor thing could not keep his food down. Yet, he is ranked # 1 in the world in the same organization in which Ms French is ranked # 4.

    I've never been good with numbers, but somehow this doesn't add up, excuse my lack of math prowess, however.

    December 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  13. Chet

    Competitive eating? Am I the only person who finds this disgusting and disturbing? With hundreds of people starving in the U.S. do we really need to encourage this type of activity?

    December 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  14. David Crandall

    This is one odd way to attain celebrity. I think she would also make an excellent comedian. She looks hillarious in that picture.

    December 24, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  15. Rush 21

    I can eat 50 (fifty) eggs.

    December 24, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • LaughingGirl

      You go, Hud!

      December 25, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • enoch100

      So can I. In two months.

      December 26, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Dr. B

      Only if you can do it in an hour.

      And it's Cool Hand Luke, not Hud. CHL is one of my favorite films!

      December 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  16. Donut face

    Most y'all are idiots. Let home girl do her thing. Don't hate on her cuz yer jealous. Orcuz you have nothing better to do. Oh sorry do I have bad grammar?

    December 24, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Snoot

      I gotta admit.....I kinda like "orcuz".

      December 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  17. DocBachelor

    I bet her farts could melt carbon steel. Can I get a witness?

    December 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  18. IslandAlpha

    Why would I try to prove I'm the biggest pig ?

    December 23, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  19. King Dingus

    I can eat a block of lard the size of a Volkswagen!

    December 23, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  20. Umlaut

    Nuts to this, I prefer Whiskey drinking contests myself.

    December 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  21. Daniel

    I can eat a ton but I'm usually a really slow eater. But I can eat fast when I'm really hungry or some small things.

    December 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  22. TMoney

    This "sport" is awesome for your cardiovascular system.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  23. JimAR

    I remember when the Discovery Channel had a soul and showed good programming, especially for kids. Now it shows people stuffing food into their mouths and then going somewhere to throw it up. Wow! And how much am I paying for cable?

    December 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Dude

      The History Channel – Reality shows
      The Discovery Channel – Reality Shows
      TLC – Reality shows
      MTV – Reality Shows

      So glad we have specialized channels for every interest . . .

      December 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
      • Ninja1


        December 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
      • Sweetenedtea

        NGEO occasionally has decent stuff.


        December 26, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  24. KBNJ

    I WISH I could eat a tenth of what she eats without getting a fat gut! She and the oriental girl blow me away – I'd love to see a medical explanation of how they do it.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • sandra

      It's pretty simple: bulimia. They never admit it, though. They just insist that they've got 'fast metabolisms' or don't eat like that all the time. Right. She may be running 15 miles a day, but she's also throwing up a lot of food.

      December 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Dr. Cream

      They're freaks. Freaks, dammit!

      December 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  25. Texrat the Crypticum Keeper

    She's hot.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  26. Super Paul Barlow

    sorry, she is NOT the 4th ranked eater in the world...not even close...she is only 4th ranked on a website run by a guy who ranks himself first...nothing against Suzanne, who is truly a fantastic eater, but c'mon CNN...you know better than not to check your facts!!

    December 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • humanbean

      Nothing against you or the information you're posting, but this sounds so Idiocracy like, it's not even funny

      December 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
      • Proot


        December 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
      • Dr. B

        @Proot: It's a film. Look it up. Pretty funny, too.

        December 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  27. David T

    Here's an idea. BAN eating contests completely, and give the food that would've been consumed in them to people who are literally starving to death. An eating contest is absolutely horrible, disgusting waste of food.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Elyssa

      I agree..It makes me feel guilty just hearing about this stuff. She prolly throws it up afterwards anyway..

      December 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Skin N. Bones

      Another example of how America has become a stinking rotting carcase. We used to do important things, make things people needed, grew food that fed the world. Now we're watching freaks pretend fantasy is reality, performing wild feats of no significance. Eating contest are twisted, sick and wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

      December 24, 2011 at 7:05 am |
      • CN Red

        Hear, hear! You are spot on, Skin N. Bones.

        December 26, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • LaughingGirl

      Well put, David.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • gluttonysux

      agreed.......we have 4M children going hungry in this country on a daily basis......gluttony for money sucks

      December 26, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  28. Agreeable for many reasons

    I would never enter an eating contest. It's disgusting.

    I'll stick to cigarette smoking contests, thank you.

    December 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Beardedclam

      I prefer pole-smoking contests.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  29. the_dude

    She seems like fun and a real gal. I'll take her anyday over some hipster reject.

    December 23, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Albert Fish

      I disagree. "Hipsters" are much more fun to abuse.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  30. mv

    I like her, she swallows everything.

    December 23, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • LaughingGirl


      December 25, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  31. STLTim

    Whatever is wrong with this story, it's Obama's fault.

    December 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • 23423

      I disagree with whatever you just wrote!

      December 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
      • Brad

        I agree with both of you!

        December 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  32. D Cross

    Please, spend more time covering morons! It makes us all so much smarter, and is the best way to enrich our society! This is the most deserving news story of the day! It affects the lives of so many people, and teaches us things that are absolutely vital to know!

    December 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • pooh2


      December 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Albert Fish

      Relax........have a drink. Do a rail. Hit the pipe. Slit your wrists.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  33. humanbean

    I used to watch Man vs. Food, but after a while I just couldn't do it anymore. In the end it's just a horrible and gluttonous representation of the US. Everything that is wrong with us. And the last thing I want to see is a show with some woman stuffing her face with huge amounts of food.

    December 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Ajrijl

      I agree.

      December 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Albert Fish

      I like to watch women stuff their faces with huge amounts of tube steak.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  34. erin andrews perky breasts

    so michael vick can't dog fight but they can kill animals to have "extreme eating contests" ?? i don't get it?

    December 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • The Real McCoy

      Then you are a total r3tard.

      December 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • KW

      You're kidding, right? Go take a course in logic. Of course she's disgusting. But she has taken something socially acceptable (eating food) and turned it into a ridiculous crass activity. There is nothing here to compare to the behavior of a low life who tortures and kills creatures for his sick amusement.

      December 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
      • Dude

        Humans do not need to eat meat to survive. The human body can only digest a small amount of meat.

        So eating 3-4 ounces of meat a few times a week (never more than one pound in a week) has no nutritional argument. Eating a 16oz steak is a total waste of at least 12oz of meat. Most of the death of animals for meat is only for the pleasure (entertainment) of the consumer.

        Compare the horrible lives of chickens, cows and pigs in factory farms to the horrible lives of Vick's dogs and they aren't that far apart.

        Animals raised as they were a century ago and eaten in small portions as part of a full meal of grains and vegetables is a far cry from the gluttony of today.

        If America cut back on meat consumption by 10%, the grain left over at feed yards would be enough to make up for the missing 10% and feed every human being on earth that is currently starving.

        The average American diet requires 10 times the land of the average American vegetarian diet.
        etc. . .

        December 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
      • Dude

        Should have read:

        So eating more than 3-4 ounces of meat . . .

        December 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
      • humanbean

        Yeah, and if our government would stop subsidizing corn for ethanol, I'd have more and cheaper corn to eat, and I wouldn't have to pay much much more for corn products. Not to mention the sugar farmers who get scr@wed over because we want to promote sucking down all the high fructose corn syrup. I could go on and on, but why bother? Doesn't fit into your closed minded agenda.

        December 23, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • erin andrews perky breasts

      soo......killing more animals to have your little "extreme eating contests" is MUCH better than killing dogs for entertainment? that makes so much sense. your logic is flawless thanks.

      December 23, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
      • KW

        Dear, maybe your perky breasts sre cutting off the blood flow to your brain.... Let me try again.. food eating contests are disgusting. However, food is manufactured and sold every day in this country for normal people to eat in a normal fashion. This particular chick prefers to use the food in a disgusting idiotic way. What Michael Vick did has no connection to normalcy. No part of his behavior toward dogs was normal, or acceptable. See the difference?

        December 23, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
      • erin andrews perky breasts

        anyway you try to bend it it's still animals being killed for a sick purpose.

        December 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
      • Agreeable for many reasons

        I totally agree with Erin's breasts....I mean logic. KW, your statement that Michael Vick's behavior has "no connection to normalcy" is ridiculous. Dog fighting is a huge business in the U.S., whether it's normal for you or not. If he ate the dogs, would it be closer to normalcy for you?

        Also, if you think that cows, pigs, and chickens aren't tortured, then you need to get educated. We certainly don't treat them humanely before slaughtering them.

        At the end of the day, Erin is saying that there is no guiding principle here – and I think she's right. We justify eating meat by saying "it tastes good," which is not really a justification, just the reason that we keep doing it.

        For the record, I eat lots of meat because it "tastes good." If I ate a dog for the same reason, why would I be wrong? "Normal" is subjective. Principle is not (unless you're Mitt Romney).

        December 23, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
      • erin andrews perky breasts

        fact of the matter is both kill animals and both do it for entertainment whats so different about that?

        December 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
      • KW

        Well, let me try again-Sorry agreeable- and perky breasts–I see you are not keeping "abreast" of what logical and normal means. The norm is the "standard".... Dog fighting may be acceptable for some groups of people in this country –BUT NOT FOR MOST.. Therefore it is simply NOT normal. Period. Yes, everyone knows that agribusiness is without conscience. No question. HOWEVER–Not every one who raises, sells or eats animals is evil or inherently wrong. . EVERYTHING about what Michael Vick did was evil and inherently wrong. There is no redeeming factor in dog fighting and killing for entertainment. The idea of using animals for food is not the same thing as torturing dogs and killing them for entertainment. You are comparing apples to oranges!!! And yes agreeable –I know you are not a vegetarian.–and yes–I already said agribusiness is wrong- and evil–but they are not the only suppliers of food... Perky–undo your bra and let your blood flow!

        December 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
      • KW

        Oh, and perky–I already said that what this woman does is aesthetically and morally disgusting–I don't find this type of "entertainment" fine. Try to keep up, kid.

        December 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
      • erin andrews perky breasts

        you seem really upset about this, jealous of something?

        December 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
      • erin andrews perky breasts

        "using animals for food" so someone stuffing their face with multiple lbs of meat from an animal that was probably killed 3 weeks ago is just oh so much better than dog fighting? yes it is "acceptable to society hur hur hur" but it's also pretty sick

        December 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
      • trollatc

        Vegetarian: Ancient tribal slang for the village idiot, who can't hunt or fish. PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals. So, how many animals were kill for a pie eating contest?

        December 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
      • erin andrews perky breasts are fake

        At least that way the bloody slaughter and butchery aren't wasted. Mmmm...dead animals. Nomnomnomnomnom! With ketchup, please!

        December 24, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Mary

      Wow–that perky breasted girl kept on and on about this no matter how many people tried to explain things to her–
      then she made a lame remark about somebody being jealous-of her breasts I guess. That poor child needs to step away from the mirror and learn to argue properly.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Albert Fish

      I know – let's make all competitive eaters eat dog meat.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Albert Fish

      Michael Vick should be eaten!

      December 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
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