ESPN and Major League Eating announced today that the network would continue to carry the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest through 2017. This is tremendous news. While some people who founded this very website (I won’t name names) have said some really grumpy, close-minded things about the Hot Dog Eating Contest, I’m here to say that person is wrong.
ESPN’s coverage of the Hot Dog Eating Contest is an hour of absolutely amazing tongue-in-cheek television. If you can’t find joy in the Nathan’s contest, you’re doing it wrong. They spend 40 minutes building up the contestants as incredible athletes on par with Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali. If an eater has a mild cold, Jordan’s flu game is brought up. Joey Chestnut’s 68 hot dogs are compared to Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs. They are in on the joke and it is alright for you to be too.
This year’s contest is especially important as Joey Chestnut can tie Kobayashi’s record of 6 straight Mustard Yellow Belts. Don’t think the sport is without drama. Kobayashi will forgo the Nathan’s event for the third straight year. Following an arrest in 2010, and a rooftop hot dog eating exhibition in 2011, Kobayashi is part of a new event that will compete with Nathan’s. It’s real to them, dammit. And if you’re too serious to let it be real to you for an hour a year, I feel bad for you.