Joey Chestnut: American Hero?

Today is the 4th of July which means fireworks, baseball, and hot dogs. But not just any kind of hot dogs. I’m talking about the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest held on Coney Island every 4th of July. Ever since I started following the competitive eating circuit, there has been one name that has dominated the hot dog eating contest: Takeru Kobayashi. For the past 6 years, Kobayashi has dominated the competition averaging somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 hot dogs over 12 minutes. His only competition has come in the last two years as Joey Chestnut has managed to come within only a few hot dogs of Kobayashi.

But this year is different. After 6 years of the Japanese phenom dominating on our soil and our Independence Day, Joey Chestnut has rescued us. In “the fastest 12 minutes in sports,” Chestnut not only brought back the title to the U.S. of A., he also smashed the world record for hot dogs and buns eaten by inhaling 66 of those bad boys in what’s generously being labeled “the greatest moment in American sports history.” Kobayashi made the competition interesting all the way to the end, keeping within a dog of Chestnut for the final minutes of the event. Unfortunately for Kobayashi, he suffered a reversal in the last seconds and was docked by the judges for the foul.

I of course woke up at 9 this morning so I could watch the event, as I do every 4th, and was shocked to see such an amazing display of gluttony. Who knew that it was possible to eat 66 hot dogs in a matter of 12 minutes? Even more amazing, who knew you could actually televise such a disgusting event and even have it announced by two color commentators? I wish I had TiVo’d the event so I could list a few of the outrageous moments of their broadcast (including the bizarre comparisons to players in other sports). Instead, I will leave you with one in particular:

“If you look up American Hero in the dictionary tomorrow, you will probably see a picture of Abraham Lincoln, maybe Neil Armstrong, and this man: Joey Chestnut.”

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