By Stefanie Kratter

Maria Sharapova already has a career grand slam, having won the French Open title earlier this year. She also just added Olympic Silver Medalist to her resume. She's scored countless sponsorships with major brands including Cole Haan, Nike, Evian, Head, Samsung, and TAG Heuer. But now she is out with a brand of her own.

As she competes for her second U.S. Open title this week, she's fresh off the New York City launch of her new premium line of gummy candies called "Sugarpova." The collection consists of twelve different varieties of candies, ranging from gummies and licorice to gumballs that are in the shape of tennis balls.

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The candies are available online at and at Fifth Avenue retailer Henri Bendel. They will also be sold in hotel minibars.

A portion of sales will be donated to the Maria Sharapova Foundation, which the star launched to benefit students in areas of Belarus affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.

Sharapova credits her years of work with marketing executives for inspiring her to start her own business. A self-proclaimed foodie, she says her sweet tooth only quickened her desire to start this venture. But it was really her many collaborations with top brand experts that gave her the confidence she needed to make the business a reality.

With over 7.6 million facebook fans, Sharapova hopes her popularity around the world will help her business become an international hit by next year. So far, she couldn’t be happier with the reaction it has received here in the U.S.

So how does the 25-year-old entrepreneur plan to balance her new business with a demanding tennis career? She said the combination of the two have been a nice complement so far adding, "While working on Sugarpova, it has been the time when I came back to No. 1, won Roland Garros. So in a way I see it as my lucky charm."

She may be firing on all cyclinders now, but the road wasn't always easy for Sharapova. She battled her way back from right-shoulder surgery in October 2008 and has now re-established herself among the game’s elite.

Sharapova is now the highest paid female athlete in the world according to Forbes, making a total of $27.9 million in the last year -- $22 million of it from sponsors, exhibitions and appearance fees.

Sharapova is currently ranked third in women's singles. She advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open on Monday.

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We've all heard of competitive eaters downing hot dogs, pasta and even buffalo wings. But a recent eating contest held in Brooklyn had to be a first.

Over the weekend the Filipino restaurant Maharlika invited hungry people across the Big Apple to see how many baluts they could eat in five minutes. Never heard of a balut? It's a fertilized duck embryo which is about two weeks from hatching. Many times the boiled egg contains all or part of a duckling.

"Once you crack it open, there is basically a soup in it and you crack it open, you drink that soup and then you eat the yolk and inside you see a baby duckling," said Maharlika executive chef Miguel Trinidad. "Sometimes you might get lucky and you might find one that has a few feathers, a little bit of a beak on it, but you do see a little embryo and that's the part that you eat along with the yolk and the soup. And it's a great source of protein. It's considered an aphrodisiac. It's supposed to give people power."

The eggs did appear to give Wayne Aleginio power. The 27-year-old won the competition after downing 18 eggs in five minutes, which amounts to averaging more than one egg every 20 seconds. And get this: Aleginio said he was still hungry after dominating the contest.

"This contest was my first experience with ‘balut’ and I didn’t really get the full taste of it because I was just shoving it into my mouth and eating it as fast as possible," Aleginio said. "I did not have a tummy ache afterwards; actually I was still hungry."

For more photos from the event, see here.

(H/T to The Huffington Post)

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Burn, Ducks

By Graham Kates

It's not easy setting up a high-end restaurant, knowing it will serve massive crowds the moment it opens its doors.

At the U.S. Open Food Tasting Preview, on Aug. 23, celebrity chefs Masaharu Morimoto, David Burke and Tony Manuano showed off the food they created for the world’s highest-attended annual sporting event, but said they would have little time to catch matches or hobnob with tennis stars.

"It’s a triumph to be able to serve that many people correctly,” said David Burke, whose food will be offered at Champion Bar & Grill during the event. “You’re opening a big new restaurant in two weeks. I don’t know if there’s any restaurant in New York City that will be as busy as Champion Grill … to do 1,000 covers a day, I don’t think anyone does that.”

Burke's menu includes ash crusted prime beef Carpaccio with Himalayan rock salt and mushroom chips; dry-aged bone-in rib eye with a vegetable stuffed baked potato; butter poached two-pound lobster, with shoestring potatoes, zucchini marmalade and spiced black honey; and his signature dessert cheesecake lollipop tree.

While this year’s menu doesn’t feature any U.S. Open-themed items (sorry: no tennis ball-sized cheesecake lollipops), Burke said he’s got some ideas for next year.

"When I opened David Burke at Bloomingdales, I had three round sandwiches, made on round Columbian cheese rolls called Buñuelos, and I wrapped them in green paper and put them in a tennis sleeve. It was called a tennis trio,” Burke said. “Next year we'll do something like that. Where you can get the three sandwiches in a tennis sleeve and bring them back to your seat."

But not every chef was already looking forward to next year. Morimoto said before he can start thinking about 2013, he has to fine tune 2012’s service.

"This is my third year. A couple of years ago, it was a lot of work, because I (didn’t) know what was going on. We were very unorganized. The second year, we did OK. And this year, I see it being perfect,“ said Morimoto, whose food will be served at Aces restaurant during the event.

Morimoto’s menu includes Montauk wild stripe sea bass and Skuna Bay craft raised salmon.

Although tennis stars are rarely seen eating at U.S. Open restaurants, Morimoto said he’s always been willing to cater to them.

“If they want a snack, or their family wants food in their suites, we send them food. We like that,” Morimoto said. In fact, one tennis star enjoyed Morimoto’s food so much last year, that he actually did become a regular at the restaurant.

“Andy Murray, he come in a lot last year, every day. He loves spicy tuna,” Morimoto said of the Olympic gold medal winner.

A few minutes later, Morimoto made his best effort to woo another tennis star, personally serving John McEnroe a fresh tray of sushi. McEnroe watched, seemingly unimpressed, as Morimoto grated fresh wasabi root tableside.

The spectacle of an Iron Chef serving food to the Tantrum himself quickly drew a horde of cameras to the table.

“I didn’t know I was such a big deal,” the four-time U.S. Open champion said, as he posed for a photo with Morimoto.

See more of their food on slideshow.

-- Follow Graham Kates on Twitter @grahamkates. Follow SportsAndFood on Twitter @sportsandfood.

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Photo Credit: Graham Kates

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As one of the official sponsors of the Olympics, McDonald's did its fare share of advertising in London. And in the wake of the Games, the company has gotten some unexpected but welcome marketing from the world's top athletes.

On Monday, much to the chagrin of First Lady Michelle Obama, gymnast Gabby Douglas admitted that after winning a gold medal in London she splurged on an Egg McMuffin at McDonald's.

Douglas was far from the only athlete to munch on a snack from the Golden Arches during her time in London. The McDonald's in the Olympic Village was a favorite of the USA men's basketball team, shown here dining with gold medalist Serena Williams.

Usain Bolt is also a prolific customer at McDonald's, and his love for the restaurant even earned him a unique sponsorship offer centered around McNuggets.

Perhaps the best indication of McDonald's popularity came after the closing ceremonies Sunday. The McDonald's in the Olympic Village offered free food to the Olympians. And in the words of U.S. cyclist Bobby Lea, it was a "mob scene."

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It was once said that Michael Phelps devoured 12,000 calories every day. It seemed ridiculous, but he did burn a lot of energy, so maybe he needed to eat 10 times what the average person consumes.

In a tribute to the Baltimore Bullet, one competitive eater attempted to mimic Phelps' average diet. But this man, known as Furious Pete, one-upped Phelps. He ate 12,000 calories in one sitting.

The meal included some Phelps classics (a five-egg omelete, three chocolate chip pancakes, a bowl of oatmeal) as well as some new additions (five energy drinks, an extra large pepperoni pizza).

Ironically, this video will most likely kill your appetite.

Now is probably not a good time to tell Furious Pete that those stories about Phelps eating 12,000 calories are not true.

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