Last night I made the mistake of asking my husband to change the channel to the July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest featured on ESPN. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this contest you can read about it here. I’m not exactly sure what made me want to tune into this, but I think it was a combination of disbelief and morbid curiosity. I kept picturing the scene from the movieStand By Me with the blueberry pies and Lard-Ass and his revenge plot. Remember that? But I was surprised when I watched the commentators introduce the “competitors” at the beginning of the show. *Pause here – commentators? There are commentators for an eating contest?! And further, it is televised?! On a sports channel?! Oh, and there are 40,000 people watching it live on site?! You have gotta be friggin’ kidding me!!! Nope, I’m here to tell you, it is all true. And it gets worse.
I was pretty surprised that while some contestants where pretty large, the majority were average sized people. The commentators introduced each contestant with their nicknames, in some cases, and then impressed the crowd with stats and food records each held (e.g. pounds of chili consumed, or numbers of jalapeno peppers consumed. Who knew there were this many eating contests out there!), which was enough to start my stomach churning. I made an audible groan as they posted the contest rules on the screen. The worst rule in a funny, pathetic, and gross sort of way, was the one that disqualified a contestant for a “reversal of fortune” (I’m thinking you can read between the lines on that one).
As they set the time clock to 10 minutes, my hand went next to my eyes, ready to block out this disturbing sight at any moment. Amazingly I could watch the first few minutes (like 2) in time to see the reigning champion consume like 12 or so dogs. It was such a disgusting thing to witness. They eat the dog first without the bun, shoving it down their gullets and then almost in the same motion they dip the bun in water and shove that right in afterwards. The really gross thing was then watching them move around and like jump up and down to get the “food” down into their stomachs. One after another they kept shoving it in while the numbers kept adding up on the television screen. The commentators kept giving play-by-plays the entire time. By about 4 minutes in I felt nauseous myself and was ready to turn the channel, but Mike said to just close my eyes! I’ll admit I was curious about how this whole thing would end. I opened my eyes when the 10 minute buzzer rang to see the reigning champion, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut tie his former record of 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes interviewed. I’m just gonna pause to let that sink in. Yeah. He said in his interview that he was “…glad for the win…” and he complimented the other “eaters” on a good contest. I mean, what do you say to him, “congrats, you really hogged that in good!” or “wow, you sure can eat like a pig!”
Beyond the sheer grossness of this event is the utter waste and gluttony displayed. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what is wrong with this country today. How much money was wasted on this whole event? Add in the food cost, if you call hot dogs food, that is, the advertising, employees, etc. It is really disturbing and astounding that in this time of hunger and on the flipside obesity in America, we are spending dollars on this?! It is deplorable. And on a deeper level, using food which is supposed to nurture our bodies as a vehicle for competition is just beyond words. Perhaps I’ll write a letter to the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest people and tell them what I think. My fear is they would placate me with a gift card. For hot dogs. Oy!