"It is possible to die from eating. But I think to be professional means you don't die." (Takeru Kobayashi)

Saturday, May 26, 2007


The Philly Nathan's qualifier is in the books and it looks like another Sonya vs. Humble Bob controversy is brewing. For the record, I love it. A little rivalry and a few heated words are exactly what this sport needs to gain legitamacy and fan interest.

This time, Sonya beat Bob 36 hot dogs to 33 to win the qualifier and a spot at the Coney Island table on July 4th. But according to Steakbellie, who ate alongside Sonya and Bob at the contest, Bob says a mistake in post-contest plate counting cost him the win (they count empty plates at the end rather than dogs as they're eaten) (correction regarding plate count vs. dog count can be found in comments). "The main controversy involved Humble Bob’s plate count," said Steakbellie in a comment on Eat Feats. "He had enough empty plates in front of him to have beaten Sonya. A Nathans official decided that he must have been given a double plate."

Mr. Bellie said he's not sure what basis the judge had for making the now infamous "double plate call." I'm assuming they were using paper plates. Were the plates sort of locked together the way paper plates can get when they're fresh out of the package? Was there no hot dog crumbs or grease on the plate? Who knows.

Steakbellie is also sure the "considerable video coverage" will help settle the dispute and allow for post-contest dog-by-dog counting. If that's the case, it could be the first time in competitive eating history that a contest was decided by not-so-instant replay. And if that happens, it's very likely that Sonya will FLIP THE FUCK OUT (lest we forget her reaction when her deduction for too much detritus caused her to finish less than an ounce behind Bob in meatballs in December).

Of course, second place doesn't matter as much in this contest because there's no money on the line and her 36 will likely be enough to earn her a wild card spot at Coney anyhow (correction per comments: wild card spots go to the best non-winning average from three qualifiers). Still, the Black Widow don't take too kindly to being bumped from first place in anything. And that's part of the reason why I love her.


Anonymous Stickler said...

The wild card is not given to the highest non-winning total. It is given to the person who has the highest non-winning average over 3 qualifiers. Her single-qualifier total of 36 while very impressive would mean nothing if she was to come in 2nd and not eat in 2 more qualifiers.

11:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

for top compeitors dogs are counted as they areeaten/plates arent countedafterward.,there is no reason to doubt an official hot dog count.

12:02 AM

Anonymous Philly Guy said...

All these 7th place finishes are starting me make me feel biblical.

12:13 AM

Anonymous Kevin said...

Yeah, true. Officials are all over people like Bob, Sonya, Joey, Pat, etc. All the top ones are watched closely and their totals are counted as it goes on flip cards. Someone like Toro, Brian, and anyone else in the lower double-digits who won't approach a high number or win - they can claim count errors but top eaters have no reason to claim counting error. Judging debris error, that's something else. But count error? That's really poor sportsmanship and just stupid.

12:18 AM

Blogger steakbellie said...

My wife and friends in the crowd said that the guy who was supposed to be doing Bob's count had to also fetch HotDogs for the Eaters at the because they were understaffed at the table. Sonyas counter stayed put.

I just think it's a shame because Bob did nothing wrong, and either got shafted by the counter (not Bobs fault) or given an extra plate (not Bob's fault).

The fact that the plate and Dog count dont jibe is unfair to both Bob and Sonya, as she cant enjoy an undisputed victory.

1:02 AM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

I stand corrected on the plate count vs. dog count. That makes the fact that Bob's counter was also the table's hot dog fetcher even more FUBAR. Which explains why they were forced to count Bob's plates at the end (although anonymous claims plates WEREN'T counted at the end...who's correct?)

As for the wild card being the highest non-winning average over 3 qualifiers, that's just weird. Has it always been that way?

So if some guy were to go up against Joey at his qualifier and Joey were to put up 55 HDBs and the runner up put up 52 but couldn't make it to another qualifier, he wouldn't get a wild card?! What if that happened in the last qualifier of the year and that was phenomemal mystery guy's only qualifier? I can making wild cards do two qualifiers, but making people commit to three is just overkill.

9:18 AM

Blogger steakbellie said...

the only Eaters who's plates were scrutinized were Bob and Sonya.

as crazy as it is, thats been the system for Nathans. I think it was a way to fill the Qualifier tables when their were far less pro eaters on the circuit.

12:06 PM

Blogger steakbellie said...

and just to be clear, I'm not saying that Bob beat Sonya. I dont have an inkling if he did or not. I'm saying that he has a legitimate gripe if the dog and plate counts dont equal out and deserves to be heard.

12:09 PM

Blogger Carey said...

Dave, I think the logic is, and I would have to agree with it, is that the wild card goes to the most dedicated of the eaters, the one who competed in the max of three events, and didn't win any of them. And from all of those who did this, the average would decide which one would compete. It is safe to assume that if you don't win a qualifier, you won't win on the 4th either. So who gets the last spot, the person who only did one try, or the person who showed up for three?

10:16 AM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

I agree that effort should be worth something, but that's assuming you can get into the contest in the first place. But what about that diamond in the rough that only signed up for one qualifier because he lives in Santa Fe and his friends convinced him to try out on a whim? I know, that's a romanticized long shot, but it's possible.

Besides, we all know the Sheas have been known to pull a few strings and bend a few rules to get eaters to the table, so maybe there's a way around the rules after all.

12:25 PM

Blogger Carey said...

Maybe you aren't romanticizing enough. Diamonds in the rough pull through and win the qualifier. Your semi hero of the story will most likely be invited to future events, and eventually will make it to the final table. For now, lets keep a couple of those table enders interested. As a side note, I did get invitations to three events, so I am a little biased in thinking it isn't that hard to do.

12:54 PM


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