I Just Watched Two Men Eat 129 Hot Dogs
I got there about an hour and a half before the contest started, to see a monster crowd already on hand. And oh, what a crowd it was. Sadly not all of my pictures turned out as well as I would have hoped, but there was PETA out in force with signs informing me that pigs are as smart as dogs (I guess they missed the memo that Nathan's hot dogs are all beef), two girls wearing "Marry Me Joey" t-shirts, a large contingent of Japanese tourists and your normal collection of Coney Island's finest residents.
The signs were great (though they effectively blocked the view of the stage for probably 25% of the crowd), and I tried to capture a few of them for you here on The Fanhouse. They ranged from the ones egging on 60 HDB's -- which turned out to be far less optimistic than they sounded at the start -- to ones cheering on the female competitors. All of this just added to the circus-like atmosphere that was in full effect long before the gluttony began.
What did you do if you were 5'4" and totally unable to see the stage? Well, you either got on your friends shoulders ... or you used the periscope you brought (show at right) from home. Because everyone owns a periscope just for situations like this. Right? Who knew that the hot dog contest brings out the best in American ingenuity!
The actual competition itself was riveting, as Kobayashi and Chestnut matched each other dog for dog through the entire duration -- and then we were left hanging for an extended period of time while the judges determined the winner (Kobayashi's "reversal" was thankfully not clearly viewable for most of the crowd).
After Chestnut was announced as the champion and received his mustard yellow belt to a wild ovation, the rest of us got to stand in line for over an hour to pay $2.75 apiece for the exact same dogs that he plowed through in about 10 seconds each (for the record, Chestnut and Kobayashi consumed a combined $354.75 worth of hot dogs at the retail price).
Jay Mariotti said today on Around The Horn that if aliens came to earth and saw this today, they would have turned around and flown straight home. Maybe they would have, but they would have missed a lot of fun too. As I was putting away my 2 HDB's and wondering how on earth I could possibly fit 64 more of them in my stomach, I realized the whole event is so much fun because we all got to cut loose and revel in the trashy side of life for a few hours.