Tomorrow, while the rest of America celebrates Independence Day, thousands of people will watch the top competitive eaters from around the world binge until they can’t anymore. Major League Eating (MLE), the main organization that sponsors the “sport” of competitive eating, will be airing the 97th Annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest on ESPN at 3pm. Several devoted fans will crowd Coney Island in Brooklyn to watch the event live.
Many people who watch the competition annually are still upset that Takeru Kobayashi, who championed this contest for six consecutive years from 2001 to 2006, will not be participating because he refused to sign a contract with MLE. Kobayashi lost grasp of his winning streak in 2007 when Joey Chestnut, a younger competitor, came out on top and continued as champion for the past five years straight. Kobayashi seemed to have lost his appetite for victory and stopped competing in Nathan’s altogether after his loss to Chestnut in 2009. Chestnut holds the official world record of chomping down 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
The men’s and women’s competitions are held separately each year. The women’s competition, in which Sonya Thomas will appear to defend her title, will take place live at 11:30 AM, and the men’s competition will follow at 12 noon. Competitors will be eating like there’s no tomorrow to win the 1st place cash prize of $10,000 and the famous “bejeweled” belt, which is mustard yellow for men and pink for women.
Will MLE and Kobayashi come to an agreement by next year and satisfy the public’s hunger for a faceoff between him and Chestnut? We’ll have to wait and see, but for now Chestnut seems to be the top dog that everyone is rooting for to come home with the title for the sixth year in a row.
Watching the contest will be a great way for everyone to get into the spirit of Independence Day, which most of us celebrate by eating until we’re in a food coma. Or, at least I do. So enjoy the beautiful weather with your friends and family. Happy 4th of July!
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