After fireworks, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is indisputably our favorite part of the Fourth of July. If you’ve never watched this masterpiece of gluttony, we cannot encourage you strongly enough to turn on ESPN at noon tomorrow. As with all eating competitions, the contest’s beauty is its simplicity. Twenty contestants have twelve minutes to eat as many hot dogs as possible. That’s it. Takeru Kobayashi, the Japanese man who is the world’s foremost competitive eater, has won for the past six years, last year beating American Joey Chestnut by a mere 1.75 hot dogs (Chestnut ate 52, Kobayashi 53.75).
Understandably, competitive eating enthusiasts have been very excited for this year’s Kobayashi/Chestnut rematch. The buzz only intensified when Chestnut recently broke the world hot-dog-eating record with an astonishing 59.5 dogs. The world was ready for a showdown. Chestnut v. Kobayashi. David v. Goliath. USA v. Japan. Who would win? The plot thickened last week when Kobayashi announced that he was suffering from a bout of jaw arthritis that left him unable to open his mouth more than the width of two fingers. Speculation ran amok. Would Kobayshi be able to compete? (Yes.) Was he doing this merely to screw with Chestnut? (No.)
No one knows what will happen tomorrow, but it truly seems like things could go either way. Kobayashi may not be operating at full capacity, but his worst work is better than the best of most. We, for one, will be glued to our television tomorrow at noon.
Nathan’s 2007 Hot Dog Contest [Nathan’s Famous]
Injury Sets Back Japan’s Hot Dog Star [New York Times]
Kobayashi Denies Injury Is Ploy To Miss July 4 Event [ESPN]
Hot Dog Champion Is Here. How’s His Bite? [New York Times]
[Photo: Nathan’s Famous]