Competitive eater smashes Big Ugly record at Bub’s in Carmel 


Competitive eater James Webb on May 25 destroyed the record for eating Big Ugly burgers at Bub’s by downing six of the giant sandwiches – 9 pounds in all – in 37 minutes and 14 seconds at the Carmel location. The previous record, held by Eli Lessig, was five Big Ugly burgers in 7 hours, set at the Bloomington restaurant in October 2022. 

Webb, a former gym manager from Australia, ranks No. 10 in Major League Eating and was in Indiana to compete in the Jack’s Donuts World Donut Hole Eating Championship held May 26 in New Castle. He finished in fourth place, eating 295 donut holes in 8 minutes, 49 mini-pastries behind winner Geoff Esper. One week later, he set a world record by eating 59.5 donuts in 8 minutes at the Salvation Army National Donut Day World Eating Championship in San Diego, Calif. 

Webb answered the following questions from Current about his visit to Carmel. 

How did you hear about Bub’s and the Big Ugly challenge? 

Traveling from Australia is a long trip. So, I like to spend a couple extra days and check out what’s around. I put up a post (on social media) saying, “Does anyone know of any good food challenges in Indiana?” And I got the Bub’s page tagged about 20 times. 

How did you become a professional eater? 

I went on a day trip with my fiancée and we stopped at a pub for lunch. It turns out they had a burger challenge, and I just did it for a bit of a laugh. It turns out I ate Australia’s biggest burger, and the owner of the pub, he actually recorded the whole thing and sent it to the local newspaper, and the newspaper sent it to the biggest TV network in Australia. Then I had people reach out to me and say, “You’ve got a skill, man.” I found out competitive eating is a thing. (I got) invited to a few competitions and I started doing really well. I started making some videos and I started getting a lot of hits. And I just kind of fell into it. 

CIC COM 0620 6 Big Uglies 2
Competitive eater James Webb eats 6 Big Ugly burgers May 25 to set a record at Bub’s in Carmel. (Photo courtesy of Jillian Iles)

What did you think of the Big Ugly burger? Can you even taste the food when you eat so fast? 

You learn to taste on the go. You pretty much know from the second bite if it’s going to be a good challenge meal or a bad challenge meal or a very average challenge meal. The Bub’s burgers were actually delicious. I grossly underestimated how big they (were). 

(Bub’s takes) a lot of pride in what they do. They weigh out all the ingredients. A lot of places, when you say you’re here for the challenge, slap it together and eyeball it and freehand it. (Bub’s) constructed these burgers so delicately. It was a delicious challenge. 

What was your impression of Carmel? 

It’s very pretty. The theme of Carmel is very different to what you would get in Sydney, Australia, where I’m from. Not only that, the people are so kind. Once I got to the restaurant (for the burger challenge), everyone worked out what I was doing. Guys in the apartment block across the road were watching off their balcony and screaming encouragement. So, Carmel as a whole, I really enjoyed it. The weather was great, too. 

What’s next for you? Do you have any other challenges coming up?

I come to New York for the Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. That’s like the Super Bowl of competitive eating. I was the first Australian to ever qualify and compete last year. I ate 41 hot dogs in 10 minutes, and I finished third. 

What is your goal for the hot dog contest this year? 

I want to eat 50. There’s only been eight people ever (to do it). Everyone’s improving. I don’t care where I place, I just want to be that guy to eat 50 from Australia, you know what I mean?