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

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I watched the contest live yesterday with friends. We grilled hot dogs and drank too many beers. They cheered for Joey. I cheered for Koby. We were all amazed at what we saw. The record-breaking. The Koby spewage. The guy pounding a nail into his nose at the freak show.

I TiVo'd a re-run of the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog contest last night, hoping to more closely analyze and photograph Koby's alleged moment of reversal, but I guess ESPN has "standards" because the "vomit seen round the world" was edited out, replaced by a wide shot of a wildly cheering crowd. Our only clue that an upheaval had occured was in Rich Shea's words: "OH! I believe that could have been...that could have been a DQ. That's a Kobayashi reversal within the framework of the competition. I'm afraid the judges are going to call that. That is up to the judges, we have two judges, and that, Paul, is the spray zone."

(The photo above would come from an online source discovered by an eagle-eyed Billy from SuperSizedMeals.com.)

Even minutes later, when Rich narrates an on-air slow-mo replay of the moment of impact ("Here it comes...OH, that's offputting."), the footage they show is of Koby eating with both hands covering his mouth. Shame on you, ESPN. It's sports. Things happen to the human body. Bones get broken. Faces gets punched to a bloody pulp. Eagles quarterbacks vomit on the field during play. Why edit out what will be the most talked about moment in the greatest competitive eating contest of all time?

I spent a lot of back-of-my-mind time yesterday searching for the right words to describe what we all witnessed on Coney Island yesterday. I came up mostly empty but as a baseball fan, I compare Joey and Kobayashi's obliteration of the hot dog record and battle to the finish to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's great home run chase in 1998.

Both men thrilled a nation, grabbing headlines throughout the summer. Sammy (Koby) represented another land, and chased the all-American McGwire (Chestnut), matching the humble working man homer for homer throughout the race until Big Mac pulled away at the end. Both men blasted through the previous homer record, but McGwire would pad his entry into the record books with four homers on the final weekend (similar to Joey's mysterious three dog credit after the buzzer). The final tally: Sammy 66, Big Mac 70 and one stunned nation.

Here are a few more highlights from the 2007 Nathan's contest:

THE DEUCE - For the first time in Nathan's history, every finalist topped the 20 dog mark. Great job to everyone including Tim and Pat's double deuces and Sonya's new female HDB record (39).

DROPPING THE DONG - Rich Shea calling the great Japanese home run champ, Saduhara Oh, a "fraud" and talking about Gedde Watanabe who played Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles ("Donger needs food just like Kobayashi and I don't want to get all Sean Hannity on you Paul, but honestly the way Detriot's been treated by Toyota lately, I think these fans here want to see the belt come home to the U.S. of A."). Maybe he was just trying to win a bet to see if he could work the word "donger" and "Sean Hannity" into the same sentence. He won. We lost.

SQUEAKY CLEAN - Eater X flashing a new haircut and...whistling? For a full 13 seconds the camera is focused on Tim Janus singing like a bird. He glances once at the camera while Pat Bertoletti cavorts in the background.

POST GAME VIDEO - If you want to see Koby's downfall for yourself, check out this video. Koby's first alleged reversal occurs with 40 seconds left in the contest (the 4:20ish mark of this video) and again at the end (5:00 minute mark on this video). Enjoy!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

good work Dave, but read my thoughts on the "spewing" you speak of.

on my blog of course.

man, i wish I could've been there... but it was great to xchange texts immediately following!!!
At first you couldn't believe that there was a reversal at all.
"Nah!" you wrote.


9:17 AM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

Yeah, I texted "Nah!", but I knew what had happened. I was just in denial.

I don't think the reversal tarnishes his reputation at all. When a quarterback throws an interception or a hitter strikes out, is their reputation "tarnished"? Nah. It's a mistake, but it's part of the game.

Koby pushed himself HARD. But he also ate his own puke! That's hard-freakin-core. If anyone's reputation is tarnished, it's the contest judges and officials for not making the right DQ call. Koby just did what any of us would have done (or tried to do...not sure most of us could have kept it down) to avoid REALLY losing it on national television.

9:33 AM

Blogger The Rahn Family said...

Question for you. If there are x amount of calories in a hot dog and bun and then part of it is "reversed" as you so kindly put it, how many calories were then in the vomit? LOL :)

2:10 PM

Anonymous beautifulbrian said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8vtvHm2IA8&eurl= They DQ me In Feb 2006 for a few pieces of pickles coming from my nose(if you can see it) but Kobe reverses all over the place and they are afraid to pull the trigger

6:05 PM

Blogger Carey said...

Brian, I have to think that the circumstances were slightly different, where Kobay's fame draws more media attention, and some actions have to be taken for the good of the sport. That being said, I agree with you that they are contradictory. The IFOCE are an over expensed joke, and there is nothing "Major League" about them.

10:02 AM


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