Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Digestione at Coney

The ninety-second annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, to be held next Wednesday, July 4, at Coney Island in Brooklyn, is shaping up to be the most epic duel in the history of the "sport." American upstart Joey Chestnut, who recently broke the hot-dog-eating record, will take on Takeru Kobayashi, the six-time champion who is ranked number one in the world by people who rank such things. To complicate the matter, Kobayashi recently announced that he is suffering from arthritis of the jaw at a most inopportune time. The jaw, as I understand it, is an important organ for competitive eating. But Kobayashi won't let that set him back—he's going to participate anyway.

The Great White Bloat isn't sure he's buying the champ's claims of injury:
“I don’t know if it’s true or not,” said Mr. Chestnut, an undergraduate studying civil engineering. “All my friends and family they’re all saying don’t pay any attention to it. But it doesn’t make sense. Why would anybody say, ‘Oh I’m going to compete, but I’m hurt’? You could easily compete and if something went bad, then you could say something later.”
All this high drama has the New York Times' Sewell Chan comparing the run-up to this pan-Pacific bout to the hype for the Rumble in the Jungle or the Thrilla in Manila. Will an injured Kobayashi make it seven in a row? Is the arthritis a ruse, meant to stymie an adversary or lower expectations? Will the record be devoured once again? Will the mustard belt come home?

It's coming—the day America and Japan settle their score, the day thousands of children vow to devote their lives to competitive eating, the day two men consume over a hundred wieners between them in twelve minutes: July 4, 2007.

Get yer hot dogs.

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