Bellyache

Highlight of Forth of July:
Eating Dogs at Coney Island

JUST IN: Joey Chestnut ate 62 hot dogs to win the competition for the fifth time, but fell short of his 68 record. Sonya Lee won the women’s competition, chowing down 40 hot dogs. Both took home $10,000. But former champion Takeru Kobayashi may have beat them both, from afar, eating a record 69 dogs at an improvised televised event on a rooftop in midtown Manhattan, simultaneously to the official Nathan competition.
Ah, the Forth. Fireworks, patriotic BBQs and the hot dog eating contest at Coney Island. We still have no idea when the date became so much about eating, but be it as it may, this year the contest will get even bigger.
Three-time winner Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who will defend his title against an all-man, mostly unknown roster of eager gluttons with impressive guts, will also face the very popular, and a bit of a prima-donna according to locals, six-time winner and former champion Takeru Kobayashi, from Japan. But he’ll be competing via satellite from a restaurant in midtown Manhattan.
This year, there’s something else engorging the proceedings too: a first time, separate contest for women only, who most likely won’t mind being called fat, even though we would never advise anyone to do so, lest some decorum and no threat of a lawsuit prevail.
Few know that top female eaters such as Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, who beat Chestnut a few times, and Juliet Lee, both ready to chow down gargantuan nausea-inducing amounts of hot dogs next Monday, have been around for a while. The contest at Coney Island is only the main annual event of this growing but still misnamed sport, for both male and female competitors.
We wouldn’t go as far as to believe that that’s what they all do for a living, or even guess the cost of their gastroenterologist bills. That’s between them and their insurance carriers. Oh, yes, and their priests too, just in case. For those who treasure everything about Coney Island, it’s all in good fun. For everybody else, there’s the live broadcast on ESPN.
This year marks the 95th anniversary of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, if history books got it right, but it’s doubtful that participants were called “competitive eaters” and the competition itself was regulated by a “Major League Eating” before a dozen years ago.
Apparently, Kobayashi has a beef, or a choking bone to pick, with the organization, which is the reason why he won’t be at Coney Island for a second year in a row. But to be honest, we wouldn’t inquire any further on the matter.
Last year, Chestnut ate 54 hot dogs in less than 10 minutes to win the competition, with no cardiac arrests following it. It was way below his 2009 record of 68 wieners and buns which beat Kobayashi’s 64.5 for the title. Both compete in other eating contests around the world, but we won’t make you sick enumerating what, and how much of, they’ve been eating in each one of them.
But you do know what they’ll be served in a hurry up there on July Fourth. For those who may be thinking by now, gosh, what are they teaching our children, do yourselves a big favor and don’t go to Coney Island Monday. Not because of the competition, hell no; that’ll certainly be fun to watch and be part of. We mean for the kids: they won’t be into it and it’s not their fault.
For not even the Major League of Stuffing Yourself for Money has come up with a high-tech way to incorporate guns, zombies and take-downs into their competition yet. And that’s all kids seem to be into these days. Just sayin’…

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