By: Selena Zhu
James Webb is a professional speed eater from Australia. In 2021, Webb quit his job to become a professional speed eater. James is 34 years old and enters food eating contests all across Australia and America, earning money for eating lots of food very quickly.
In his first contest he shocked the world by eating 38 pancakes in only one hour, beating the Australian record. Last week he came third in New York’s famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest held in Coney Island. Webb placed third after eating 47 hotdogs in just 10 minutes.
Mr. Webb was obese as a kid. Surprisingly he overcame the challenge and became a semi-professional soccer player. His career ended because of an illness called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
He suffered Guillain-Barre syndrome, or GBS, an auto-immune disorder, when he was 27. GBS is a rare disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its nerves. It can cause paralysis, which means you can’t move your body anymore. Mr. Webb couldn’t move his body and had to use a ventilator because he couldn’t breathe. The doctors told him he would never walk again. “Basically, I went to sleep one night a professional soccer player and woke up paralyzed,” Mr. Webb said.
Despite these difficult challenges, the obstacles didn’t stop there. Soon after his paralysis, Webb also developed cataracts. Cataracts are when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, and this led Webb to becoming blind and having to give up his soccer dream. Thankfully, there was a new kind of treatment that helped him walk again. He also had eye surgery, which helped him see.