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Raro chilli chomper third best in NZ

Thursday 24 June 2021 | Written by Alana Musselle | Published in Local, National

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Raro chilli chomper third best in NZ
Samuel Thomas, on the far left, was placed third overall in the New Zealand Chilli Eating Champs Competition last month. SUPPLIED/21062313

Cook Islands champion Samuel Thomas finished third at the New Zealand Chilli Eating Champs Competition at Freemans Bay, Auckland last month.

Rarotonga resident Thomas represented the country in its first ever chilli eating competition held on May 29, competing against nine other contestants and champions across different parts of New Zealand.

He qualified for the NZ event after claiming Paul Lynch’s chilli eating competition which was held in early May this year. Lynch accompanied Thomas to the contest in Auckland.

In Auckland, the 10 competitors endured 38 rounds of the contest, consuming 15 different types of the country’s hottest chillies. Winners were decided according to who was left standing.

Thomas completed up to 35 rounds before tapping out, an excellent effort considering the fact that his only preparation for the event was consuming a few ghost peppers from Lynch’s hot sauce stall at the Punanga Nui the Saturday before they left for New Zealand and a few tips from YouTube.

Lynch said the NZ competition was a sold out with spectators, including a few Cook Islanders, watching and cheering on the chilli chompers.

Thomas, who is a New Zealander, said he was really touched by the support from locals here and Cook Islanders in Auckland.

Lynch added: “He was really proud to represent the Cooks, and really wanted to win.”

Being the only international competitor, Thomas was a crowd favourite and his stamina and focus wowed the crowd on the day.

“He didn’t show any reaction to the crowd and the way the contest was advancing with hotter chillies for every round. He was like Superman,” said Lynch, who livestreamed the event for supporters in Rarotonga.

In his immense concentration Thomas surprised media reporters on the day, only uttering the words “God is good”, when asked for comments during the contest.

The organisers on the day shared how this was the longest chilli eating competition in the world. Surprised at the determination of all the contestants to remain in the contest as long as possible, the organisers were forced to double up on the chillies being consumed to eliminate people faster. Thomas along with two other contestants were the only ones to remain until the final hour.

He received $200 for third place and is looking forward to competing again, if given the chance.