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July 4 Hot Dog Eating Contest

Joey Chestnut is the greatest competitive eater ever and is way better than that Koby dude.

Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest

This was my third year in a row heading out to Coney Island on the Fourth of July to watch the annual hot dog eating contest. It’s become a tradition for me, one I am not willing to give up any time soon. One of those things that once you see live it’s hard to go back to watching on TV.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

Me and the Hungry Sisters got up ridiculously early and took a subway to Coney getting there at just before 8:45am. It was hot. Too hot. Honestly none of us were really all that excited until the train approached. Looking out over the roller coasters and ferris wheels and seeing a crowd gathering around the stage gave us the kick we needed. We ran from the train, getting to the stage just as emcee George Shea was rehearsing and Badlands Booker was preparing to sing Frère Jacques. We eventually found a spot right up near the stage and stood through the intense heat and opening acts we couldn’t see.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

If you saw the broadcast, or any media, we were right next to the dudes in the face paint who were all over the photos and videos. Never mind, media people, that right next to them were four un-facepainted ladies that happened to be the number one fans of competitive eating. But whatever.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

There was still a little buzz over whether or not former champion Takeru Kobayashi would be there…especially, to me, since they usually do a practice run of the intros and they didn’t do it this year…little did we know though, standing at the opposite end that Kobayashi was there. In the crowd. We had no idea.


The ESPN broadcast began and the competitive eaters were introduced.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

And then they were off, eating.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

We couldn’t see a thing from where we were so we moved a bit and then could sort of see some stuff. There is no good place to watch live. I have determined that. You could think you have the best spot ever and then the judges come out and you can’t see a thing. I often hope that someday I can stand in the press box, but even then I’d be able to see wonderfully but not be able to get the photos I like to take. Not that I could get those photos anyways.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

The contest seemed more subdued this year. With Kobayashi not a threat to Joey Chestnut he got in a comfortable lead and didn’t come close to his record (although, really, 54 hot dogs in ten minutes is nothing to sneeze at) and the crowd wasn’t as loud, weren’t all pushing towards the stage. Weren’t…as into it.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

Oh, and Tim Gravy Brown kind of looked like he was going to have a reversal of fortune (meaning: throw up, puke, vomit)…and we really kind of wished he had because it would have made the show. But alas he kept it all in. 🙁

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

The hot dog eating contest was over with little doubt that Joey Chestnut had won. He grabbed his Pepto Bismol and his trophy and his American Flag.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti ended up in third place with 37 and Tim “Eater X” Janus in second with 45.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

And, apparently, Kobayashi rushed the stage…which me and my friends were totally oblivious to and we watched it on a handheld video camera in a bar afterwards and then YouTubed in back at the hotel. It was all rather odd. And I don’t even know what to think of it. Because a contract is a contract and you either choose to sign it or don’t. I mean even I have to sign an agreement that I won’t do any work that is a conflict of interest with the company I work for so I can understand the want to not have the eaters compete in outside contests or push products that compete with those of sanctioned contests. But at the same time I get a salary and guaranteed paycheck.

After the contest we went to a bar on the boardwalk for an after party (there would be another after party that night). That had no power. And did I mention that it was hot? And finally the power and therefore fans came on and we drank some beer and mingled amongst eaters and zombies until it was too hot to handle.

July 4 Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

And even though it was way too hot and way too crowded with a more repressed crowd and we couldn’t see and the competition was no competition, I’ve already planned to be there next year. Because it’s awesome. Because it’s worth it. And because it is so much better live than watching it on TV.

 

More photos from the Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest:

 

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