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Walworth County cop wins doughnut eating world title for third time

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
April 30, 2009
— Some law enforcement officers do it for honor.

Others do it for fame.


There might even be those who do it for money.


Sgt. Howard Sawyers does it for doughnuts.


The sergeant, who trains correctional officers at the Walworth County Jail, is the world's cop doughnut eating champion for the third time.


The 17 doughnuts he downed in three minutes to win this year's championship April 22 also set a cop doughnut-eating record. Sawyers has won the championship more times than anybody—three out of the six annual contests.


Sawyers' career as a doughnut-eating champ began in 2005 at the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association's annual conference in Illinois.


"I had no idea how to eat doughnuts fast," Sawyers said. "Obviously, I'm a big guy and I've eaten some doughnuts in my day.


"But never that many in one sitting."


He had attended the first conference in 2004. He bought a T-shirt and made a donation but wasn't keen on participating.


"Being a big guy, you've got a little bit of an ego, and you don't want to eat the doughnuts," he said.


The second year, Sawyers gave in to his competitive spirit and decided to participate. He scarfed 12 doughnuts in three minutes to take third place.


The following year, he ate 13 and took first place. He won in 2006, took second place in 2007, and took the top prize in both 2008 and 2009.


How does he do it?


"My pattern is going for a really big burrito for lunch that day because the competition is not until nightfall," he said. "By 7 p.m., you're hungry and ready to go."


Corrections Secretary Kathy Loveless, who claims to be Sawyers' biggest fan, said he is always focused and trains year-round.


"His training is not eating until the big event," Loveless said.


But Sawyers is not just about eating doughnuts.


"It's fun because what we're doing is poking fun of ourselves," Sawyers said. "Too many problems that we've had (in law enforcement) have been because of the ego factor. Guys get the fact that we're wearing a badge and we deserve to be respected. You still have to earn respect."


While eating doughnuts might not be the best way to gain said respect, attending the trainers conference gets a little closer to that goal.


The conference gathers worldwide leaders in law enforcement and focuses on the newest training techniques and technologies.


The doughnut-eating contest is a fundraiser, and some of the proceeds go to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. It also funds scholarships for officers to attend the conference the upcoming year.


Sawyers said this year's contest might be his last. If a contender steps up to his feat, he vowed to return and take the challenge.


As his coach, training Lt. Dave Gerber, pointed out, most legends return when faced with a new record to break.


"Rocky retired and came back," Gerber said.



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