Blah blah blah blah blah.
I’ve been covering the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4 at Coney Island since the days when Frank “Hollywood” Dellarosa was the Superhero of Surf Avenue, even though 21 hot dogs and buns was the best he ever mustered (as opposed to mustard).
So, sure, as dean of the hot dog contest press corps, I’m impressed that Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has not only won nine of the last 10 contests. And I’m agape that he ate 70 HDBs in just 10 minutes last year, a personal best.
But I’m also a bit appalled.
Joey Chestnut regains the title of Nathan’s hot dog eating champ
Yes, I’ve seen them all; my first love, of course, was Dellarosa, until he earned his sarcastic nickname by thinking he could parlay two straight July 4 victories into a career in La La Land. But more gustatory gladiators followed, including Mike “The Scholar” DeVito, who earned his nickname due to his academic approach to the sport; Hirofumi Nakajima, the first of the legendary Japanese eaters; Takeru Kobayashi, who brought the sport out of the “dead dog” era by doubling the then-record with 50 HDBs in 2001 before a Van Goghian madness overcame him after an alleged use of the Roman method and a cheating scandal; and finally Chestnut, who is not the flashiest eater on the circuit (he’s more Steph Curry than Michael Jordan), but he’s the greatest pure athlete since Secretariat.
When Chestnut ate 70 HDBs in tough conditions last July 4, I doffed my cap, Major League Eating President George Shea doffed his trademark straw boater, and plenty of bathing beauties at Coney doffed their bikini tops — such was the magnitude and sexiness of his triumph.
But the numbers have gotten too high. The “everyman” spectacle of the annual contest has been lost. And eating the equivalent of nine days’ worth of calories and 19 days’ worth of fat in 10 minutes is a disturbing spectacle. So this year, instead of demanding that Chestnut gorge on five hot dogs in a minute in a stunt for my rogue video intern Anuz Thapa, I asked Chestnut to relish just a single Nathan’s hot dog.
And relish he did (with mustard). The video above shows what can happen when a man and his dog are allowed to connect on a pure, guttural level. Watch as Shea, ever the PR man, exhorts Chestnut to eat more. Yet, like a hot-dog-eating Elizabeth Warren, Chestnut resisted.
Nathan’s manufacturer recalls 200,000 pounds worth of hot dogs
It is a joy to watch.
The annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is live on ESPN at noon on Tuesday, July 4 from the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island.
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