NC collard eating champ returns 33 years later, winning again at festival

Hurst during the competition on Saturday. WNCT photo

AYDEN, N.C. (WNCT) — “5, 4, 3, 2, 1!” It’s time to eat and for Ayden competitors, that meant as many collards as they could shove down their throats in 30 minutes.

“I love to eat, I love collards. It’s just a natural no brainer thing to do,” said competitor, Larry Maxey.


“You still need to keep eating cause if the leader pukes, you’re in the running again,” one person said.

“I was really excited to come see it, so I thought why not be apart of it?” said an anonymous competitor.

So the cups of collards started rolling out at 2 p.m. and some were in it for the taste.

“They’re good, they are really good!”

But not for Mort Hurst, also known as the Collard King, a world-champion eater.

Hurst came back Saturday, 33 years later, to beat his record of seven and a half pounds of collards in 30 minutes.

“He’s quite a legend. He sat down and told us to eat harder and faster,” said a competitor.

After the competition was done, Hurst managed to eat six and a half containers.

“I felt like I could have done better today,” said Hurst. “I trained hard. I ran out of ketchup and that messed me up.”

He was down one and a half pounds.

“I was shooting for 8 pounds (or) eight and a half pounds,” said Hurst.

But even though he failed to beat his collard record, he will retire taking home the title as Ayden’s 2017 Collard Festival winner.

“Truth be known, no I’m not happy,” said Hurst. “But I’ll be happy to walk off stage, because everybody was worrying I was going to have a stroke and die . But I’m happy to walk off stage.”

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