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Burn Baby Burn

Jacob Keeton puts the smackdown on spicy hot wings
Contestants face off in the Kamikaze Smackdown. Photo by Trask Bedortha.
Contestants face off in the Kamikaze Smackdown. Photo by Trask Bedortha.

Months ago we witnessed EW intern Andrew Hitz take the Hot Mama’s Wings Kamikaze Challenge and nearly hemorrhage. In an event that requires contestants to eat nine unreasonably spicy wings in six minutes, Hitz destroyed previous records by decimating all nine wings in two minutes and forty eight seconds. We were impressed. 

But records are made to be broken. And as is the case with any sport, there is always someone somewhere who is better than you. No shame in that reality — there are monsters out there. 

Jacob Keeton is a monster. Monday, May 14, he stomped Hitz’s achievement into the dust of forgotten things. He can handle spice in a way that defies human limits. He is the lone Hot Mama’s Wings Kamikaze Smackdown champion.

“At about wing five I felt like shit,” Keeton says. “I didn’t think I was going to win, but I kept going because people were yelling at me.” 

To put things in perspective, the Hot Mama’s Wings Kamikaze Challenge differs from the Hot Mama’s Wings Kamikaze Smackdown in that contestants must eat as many kamikaze wings as possible within the allotted timeframe of five minutes. These wings are no joke, slathered in a sauce made from vinegar, salt, tomato paste, butter, onion, garlic, habanero peppers, chicken, cayenne pepper and an extra-spicy ingredient that Hot Mama’s Wings refuses to disclose, these things will melt your intestinal tract on the way in and singe your colon on the way out.

“I don’t even like spicy food,” says Keeton. “I hate spicy food!” 

Keeton says he was urged to participate in the event by friends who saw his aptitude for enduring spice when he first ingested a kamikaze wing. He ate 22 wings and beat out 11 determined challengers during the Smackdown’s five-minute time period, and though he did at one point look as if he might vomit, Keeton hung in there. Toward the end of the competition, somewhere around the two-minute warning, the judges told Keeton that his wings weren’t clean enough. So, like a true champ, Keeton went back and cleaned the wings, bone after fiery bone.

There is no telling what personal hell Keeton slipped into hours after his clutch performance at Hot Mama’s Wings. It is likely that he shut the door of his bathroom and went to a terrible place. 

But pain is temporary, and pride is forever. Keeton won more than a bad-ass trip to the coast at a hotel that has in-room Jacuzzis — he won the respect of the many who watched him eat, and burn and keep eating. We salute him, and we can’t wait for the next Smackdown.