One of my favorite “sporting” events of the year is the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4. But my enthusiasm for the spectacle has take a hit the past two years because of a contract dispute with the sport’s villain.
I started watching in 2001 when Takeru Kobayashi burst onto the scene, winning the contest by eating 50 dogs. He dominated for six years, with no one coming close. I wondered if that Japanese bastard would ever lose.
Then an American Hero arrived.
In 2007, Joey Chestnut took down Kobayashi in a heart-stopping finish. Chestnut was helped by a late “reversal of fortune” by Kobayashi.
It got even better in 2008 when Chestnut and Kobayashi went to overtime in a five-dog eat off.
However, last year the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest was a downer. Major League Eating required all competitors to sign an exclusive one-year contract to enter. Kobayashi refused, and was banned from the competition.
He tried to storm the stage last year, wearing a “Free Kobi” shirt. All that landed him was a night in jail.
Chestnut easily cruised to victory last year and there was no drama. Rather disappointing.
It was a little more interesting this year, as Patrick Bertoletti hung with Chestnut for a while. Eventually Chestnut pulled away and finished with 62 dogs.
Somewhere in Manhattan, Kobayashi was competing at the same time as the guys at the Nathan’s contest, and supposedly ate a record 69. That won’t be an official mark, though, even if true.
Ultimately it comes down to this — the MLE and Kobayashi need to come to an agreement. The hot dog contest just isn’t the same without Chestnut and Kobayashi going head to head. Having an American go up against a worthy adversary from another country is the perfect way to celebrate the 4th of July.
We need more moments like 2007 and 2008 — well, minus the reversal of fortune.
• I am still going with the plan of participating in a qualifier for the Nathan’s Hot Dog contest if it gets near Houston. I won’t be looking to win. I just want to experience the whole thing.
• My new long putter arrived in the mail this weekend. I can’t wait to test it out this week.
• Saw Transformers 3 on Friday. It was a solid flick, much better than the second one. Leonard Nimoy voiced one of the transformers this time, and at one point he said a famous line from Star Trek 2. I laughed — I was the only one who did. Guess I was the biggest nerd in the theater.
• And finally, Harry Potter is giving up booze. Seeing as he career will officially come to an end in two weeks, I’m not sure that is the best of ideas.
Bear Down and Keep the Faith!