Posted by: mdegeorge | July 5, 2010

The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: Representing America’s (and sport’s) worst for 95 years

Independence Day means many things to many people. For the sweaty, half-soused, sun burnt throngs congregated at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues on Coney Island, it’s about a display of unparalleled gluttony and over-indulgence that no other country in the world could dare replicate.

For those not willing to sweat it out in the 90-degree steam bath provided by the island, the expert, borderline Peabody Award-winning coverage by ESPN provided even more joy than the contest itself—as was the revelation that Takeru Kobayashi sat the contest out due to a “labor impasse with Major League Eating” and was later arrested for struggling with police on stage.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=nathan’s+hot+dog+eating+contest&iid=9289196″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9289196/joey-chestnut-wins-the/joey-chestnut-wins-the.jpg?size=500&imageId=9289196″ width=”500″ height=”347″ /]

While the astronomical gastronomical deeds of the eaters outside the hot dog ring are too numerous (and quite frankly, too ludicrous) for me to list here, I’ve broken ESPN’s coverage into its two major categories of hyperbole. First, there’s the asinine introduction of the eaters, which ranges from the allegedly athletic to the tragically melodramatic to the downright Biblical. Then there are the graphics comparing eaters to real athletes, a serious affront to any fan of sports.

So first, the introductions by announcer George Shea:

Crazy Legs Conti: He was buried alive under 60 cubic feet of popcorn and he ate his way out to survival, and he learned the mysteries of beyond in the process. The David Blaine of the bowel; the Houdini of cuisine-i.Tim “Gravy” Brown: Even as a suckling child, it was apparent that he was a competitive eating savant, one who can see the truth behind the truth, behind the truth. It is said that he can smell the flavor of a touch, taste the color of a sound. His understanding of food goes beyond anything we could ever imagine. Ga-Ga-Ga-Ga-Gravy Brown.

Juliet Lee: Heaven must have rusted through on the bottom because angels have fallen in among us.

Eric “Badlands” Booker: The top gurgitator extraordinaire; the one who eats to the beat of the flash and flare. (Also, the 400-pound Booker is a subway conductor on the 7 train in New York. So if you’re on the train and it’s a little sluggish, it’s probably because of the continent that’s steering the train. He’s joined in the interesting occupations category by Ben Munson, a dietary nutrionist by trade whose lessons hopefully don’t include the merits of eating 29.5 burritos in 10 minutes.)

Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas: Some say she is the absence of beauty, the shadow under the lotus petal. Others are less charitable. They say she is a living sign of the apocalypse, a force of evil who eats with a cloven tongue, a daughter of Cain locked in battle with the Sons of Abel.

Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti: He is not an athlete. He says he is more of an exotic pet owner, because his intestine is an anaconda that tightens until it twists the life from the small animals he feeds it.

Bob “Notorious B.O.B.” Shoudt: His obligations smother him like the heavy wet earth of a premature grave. And the makeshift crosses on the shoulder of the highway remind him of his own mortality and his failure to create a lasting legacy for himself and his family.

Tim “Eater X” Janus: He’s a solitary man who keeps his own counsel. Inscrutable behind a painted mask. Perhaps he conceals his face to hide from crimes committed in another nation. Perhaps he hides from crimes he has yet to commit.

Joey Chestnut: What does he mean? Americaaaaaa! America is a dream forged in the minds of its heroes, a fragile reality made possible only by those who understand greatness and the way to achieve it. Before you stands just such a man, ladies and gentleman. His figure is crafted from clay by the fingers of the Almighty himself to stand in a position of honor in the permanent collection of the museum of all time. The eater of the free world.

Now for the indictment of the ESPN graphics department:

Takeru Kobayashi’s innovation of dunking the buns and separating dog from bun (groundbreaking, I know!) is equated with Candy Cummings development of the curveball, Eddie Cochem’s institution of the forward pass, and George Mikan’s introduction of the slam dunk.

Michael Phelps diet of around 12,000 calories a day is compared to the almost 21,000 calories Chestnut devoured in 10 minutes last year with his 68 hot dogs and buns. I’d like to see it compared to the number of refugees in third world countries that could be fed for a day. I’m just assuming the hot dogs scarfed down in the contest could have fed Darfur for a week.

“Passing of the Fork: From one Diner-sty to the Next”, which compared Kobayashi’s six-year reign followed by Chestnut’s now four straight titles to the transition from Pete Sampras to Roger Federer, Cheers to Frasier, and the Ming Dynasty of 1368-1644 to the Manchu Dynasty of 1644-1912.

“Rookie Monsters” like Wilt Chamberlain, Eric Dickerson, Teemu Selanne, and Munson are also compared. One averaged 37.6 points per game, one rushed for 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns, one scored 76 goals, and one defeated Chestnut in a flautas eating contest. All equivalent honors.

Graphic comparing “Notable women in a men’s world”, relating Thomas’ rise to the number five in the world eater rankings to such accomplishments as Billie Jean King’s win in the Battle of the Sexes over Bobby Riggs.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. […] The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: Representing America’s (and sports’) worst fo… […]

  2. The Nathan?s Hot Dog Eating Contest: Representing America?s (and sports?) worst for 95 years…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  3. The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest: Representing America's (and ……

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  4. […] … the expert, borderline Peabody Award-winning coverage by ESPN provided even more joy than the contest itselfas was the revelation that Takeru Kobayashi sat the contest out due to a labor impasse with Major League Eating and was …Continued […]

  5. […] people. For the sweaty, half-soused, sun burnt throngs congregated … Read the rest here: The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest: Representing America's (and … Share and […]

  6. The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest: Representing America's (and ……

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  7. […] … the expert, borderline Peabody Award-winning coverage by ESPN provided even more joy than the contest itselfas was the revelation that Takeru Kobayashi sat the contest out due to a labor impasse with Major League Eating and was …More […]

  8. […] myth and mystery of the Home Run Derby hangover I’ve never been shy to point out the lowest depths in ESPN’s shambolic programming […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: