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Woman Crowned ‘Chili Queen’ In China After Eating 20 Peppers In A Minute

Chili lovin', like so many things in this world, exists on a spectrum. For some people, even a hint of chili spice is enough to cause them to violently retch and fumble around for a glass of milk, and for others, the hotter the better.

Personally, I'm a moderate fan of chili. There's nothing better than a dish with a little extra kick to it, especially in the winter. But I do have a spicy line, and when it's crossed, an otherwise delicious meal can turn into the stuff of nightmares in seconds.

Some people, however, are almost superhuman in their ability to handle chilis. When I was in high school, I saw a girl eating red spicy chilis (with a warning on the packet) whole at recess. I asked her how she could do it, and she told me they weren't spicy at all and handed me one. I gave it a tentative lick and, well, I don't think my tongue's ever recovered.

But my old friend has nothing on the woman who ate 20 whole chili's in a minute in a chili-eating contest: 

And while most of us are donning an extra few layers to keep warm during the winter months, the residents of Yichun city, Jiangxi province, China, have a rather novel way of fighting off the cold - no prizes for guessing that it involves eating chilis.

This Sunday, when temperatures dropped to a bitter 2 degrees Celsius, locals decided to take part in a hot and fiery chili-eating contest.

Yichun native Yi Huan emerged victorious after this literal "Chili Queen" ate 20 peppers in one minute. She was rewarded with a bar of gold (above). Not bad. Although if I'd done the same, I'd have probably had to use it to pay for a doctor afterward.

Now, incredible images of the event have surfaced, showing sweaty people bathing in hot springs and nomming on seriously spicy chilis. Admittedly, I wouldn't be rushing to eat something that's been in other people's bath water, but each to their own.

In viral footage of the event, excited contestants can be seen holding a plate of Tabasco chili peppers and racing to eat as many as they can in a minute. China News reported that the brave contestants are from various chili-loving regions.

Hunan cuisine is characterized by the use of chili peppers and is one of China's eight great food traditions, which also include Sichuanese, Cantonese, and other regional cuisines.

And while there's no doubt that eating 20 chilis in a minute is an impressive feat, in July of this year, a theme park in Hunan province held a similar competition where the winner, Tang Shuaihui, ate a whopping 50 chilis in a minute.

While chili eating contests might be most people's idea of hell, even spice fans, one participant opened up about their appeal. "It does become almost sort of addictive in a way," says Chili Dave, of the Clifton Chili Club.

"When you have a really cheeky one your endorphins kick off and you get a bit of an adrenaline rush," Chili Dave says.

"With the really, really hot chilies, you get this lovely tingling, burning sensation, but it's actually not damaging you at all, it's all a trick of the mind," he says.

Incredibly, however, chilis aren't hot for everyone. If you're a mammal, there's a pretty high chance that they'll burn your mouth off, but birds can't taste capsaicin - AKA the chemical which makes them taste so spicy.

Will Hawkins from Push Doctor said of the illusion Chili Dave spoke of, "Capsaicin is the main bioactive plant compound in chili peppers, which can aid in the body's pain relief."

"It binds with pain receptors - the nerve endings in our bodies that sense pain - and although it can create a burning sensation, does not cause any burn injuries."

Naturally, viewers of the contest had a lot to say about its winner.

One joked, "Don't get downwind of her, for a week or so..."

Another added, "Ohhhh ohhhhhhhh ooooohhhhhhh ring 'o fire!!! [sic]"

And admittedly, I have to agree with these viewers. The "Chili Queen" might have been able to eat 20 peppers in a minute, but that's had to come with some seriously firey consequences for her in the not to distant future.