I actually caught this live on ESPN2 yesterday, the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, a yearly Fourth of July event at Coney Island since 1916. Except now it’s covered like it’s an Olympic event because, well, this is something all patriotic Americans can relate to (”Hey, I can eat too!”) and because we need to show our utter world dominance in this sport of competitive eating. We’re not about to let Takeru Kobayashi, the sinewy 128-lb. six-time world record holder from Japan, win the top prize, the “Mustard Belt” again.
This year the regulation time is 10 minutes, down from 12. Listen to the superlatives (”the greatest contest in sports!” “like Tiger Woods a couple of weeks ago!”) and watch as Kobayashi and our own Joey Chestnut, come down to a tie, something that’s never happened (a “photo finish!”). And then, the “Dog Off” –to see who can get five hot dogs down the fastest. God, I’m proud to be an American.