Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs - Mt. Sinai of Mastication

Every year since 2004, the JMR household sits down to watch one of the most disgusting competitions in sports (and yes, I consider it a sport).  The Madison Square Garden of Gurgitation, it surely is.  At the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues on Coney Island resides the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Ever since watching the qualifying round at Foxboro six weeks ago, we have especially been looking forward to the 2011 contest.  Will Joey Chestnut win again?  Will Eater X upset the favorites?  Will Takeru Kobayashi be arrested again?  Will we finally see a Reversal of Fortune?  The suspense this year is the greatest I've seen in the last 7 years.

"Who's Kobayashi?" G asks as I remark that Kobayashi is eating somewhere else in New York.  Major League Eating has banned him, and I try to avoid answering questions about why the police arrested Kobayashi last year.   

The women are first - The "lovely" Juliet Lee vs the "Black Widow" Sonya Thomas.  We watched the winning woman for 3 hot dogs in Foxboro so G is not impressed.  But when the winner won with over 40 hot dogs eaten, even G was astounded.  The pink belt winner?  Sonya Thomas.  It seems that Renee Herlocker is psyched to be the sideline reporter for this sporting event.

Now onto the men.  Everyone starts to laugh at the two hot dog guys dancing right before the men are introduced.  The giggling continues as they talk about the rapper winning the contest because he appears to weigh about 400 pounds.  The boys don't believe me when I tell them that obese people can't eat as many hot dogs because the fat around their midsections constrict the necessary expansion of their stomachs.

C asks me what they win if they win the contest.  When I answer that they win $10,000, G chimes in that they also win a trophy, remembering the big trophy that Pretty Boy Pete Davekos won in Foxboro last month. 

"Dad, Pretty Boy doesn't look like that."  Even at 7 years old, G doesn't understand irony, I guess.
After Davekos introduces eating methods, ESPN features Deep Dish Pat Bertoletti in a touching retrospective, looking to beat Joey Chestnut with his 34 world records.  But the kids are more excited by their America's Got Talent Emcee, Nick Cannon, being named the honorary grillmaster. 

Sports science for this?  Fast forward, please.  We're all grossed out by the jumping up and down and stomach capacity explanation.  This is perhaps scarring my children for life - particularly the disturbing skeletal treatments certain of the techniques are given.

Onto the introductions..."Who's that girl?" C asks about Matt "Mega Toad" Stonie.  "Yeah, he sort of looks like a girl" G explains to us.

A couple of lackluster introductions leads to our favorite eater being introduced.  He's found unconscious in Tangier with no family and no identification.  Remains a man of mystery even to himself.  EATER X!  My son asks me if he really was found unconscious in Tangier.  No, his name is Tim Janus and he lives in his Mother's basement in Des Moines.  He doesn't know the difference, I should have come up with something more exotic than that.  Eater X jaws are compared to Burrows' jaws from the Stanley Cup Final. Low blow for all the Canadian fans of competitive eating.

In an event, unfortunately, we all think that Joey Chestnut is going to win.  But can he beat his record of 68 set in 2009.

Let's go over the MLE Rules: Eat as many hot dogs you can in 10 minutes.  Dunking the buns are allowed, but for no more than 5 seconds.  Eat both the hot dog and the bun.  Reversal of Fortune leads to automatic disqualification.  Yellow card for messy eating.  As the rules are described, I feel bad for Renee - she must really be hating this assignment as she briefs us from the spray zone with her rain slicker on.

And...the most disgusting 10 minutes in sports begins!  Oh God, Bertoletti is disgusting I think to myself.  Jesus.  But he's keeping up with Chestnut at the 3 minute mark with 25 hot dogs each.  With the red Gatorade, it looks like he's eating raw meat or bleeding.  Truly vomit-inducing.

"Oh my God this is gross."  C wails after I tell him that Bertoletti's hands are red from that Gatorade.  The boys are enthralled.  I'm continue to be nauseous. The HD screen makes this really disturbing.
And at the end of 7 minutes, Chestnut is winning 48 to 43 over Bertoletti.  Our hero, Eater X, is way behind in third place.  And in the Final Minute 56-51.  Chestnut looks like he's going on to win a fifth straight title.

"Oh he just ate 62 hot dogs.  I think I'm going to throw up."  C tells us.  I'm right there with you my man.  I'm right there with you.  G jumps up on the couch he's so excited.

As the yellow belt is handed to Chestnut, we all look at each other with grim looks on our faces.  Then G pipes up.  "I want to do a hot dog eating contest!"

Time for bed, I think.

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