Reigning champion Joey Chestnut defended his title against six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi. Chestnut and Kobayashi had consumed 59 hot dogs and buns each after the end of the ten-minute race, forcing the first-ever overtime in the contest's history. The winner would be the first to consume five more hot dogs and buns, and Chestnut finished seven seconds before Kobayashi. The coveted Mustard Yellow Belt stays in American hands.
George Shea, the contest emcee and IFOCE honcho -- and, not incidentally, a brilliant PR huckster of the old school -- was in rare form, as well: this blog collects some of his bons mots from the contest. My favorite moments, however, occurred before the contest: he told jokes, he brought out cops, musicians (including Amos Wengler, who sang "Hot Dog, Hot Dog") and a rabbi, he turned the mic over to a guy who popped the question to his girlfriend...and then Shea surprised the happy couple by announcing that he'd recently been ordained by the Universal Life Church and married them on the spot. But Shea really got going when he introduced the eaters at greater length before the live telecast began:
- "He is a genius of competitive eating. He knows why they call it couscous, and not just cous. He remembers what he had for lunch on March 17, 1996: tuna salad."
- "He was once the bologna-eating champion of the world, but he lost that title and the prestige that went with it. And it burned him. He felt as felt the old man who has lived long enough to watch his son hang from the gallows. And like that old man, he won't be ashamed to remember that his life had no meaning, and no hope."
- "I have seen dark visions of the future, signs of the apocalypse. Smoldering rubble. A tearful girl holding a limp doll. A monkey riding horseback on a poodle. My ears have been shredded by the mournful news they have heard, because I have witnessed the horses riding! I have witnessed the coming of the leader of the Four Horsemen of the Esophagus! He has a cloven tongue with which he eats the cloven hoof! He is the pig's-feet-eating champion of the WOOOOOOOORLD!"
- "13.7 billion years ago, all matter and energy in the universe was compressed into one single infinitely small point, and the pressure was such that it created a singularity, an explosion that sent matter and energy outward, creating the universe, as it did. And as that matter cooled, it became gas, and as the gases cooled, they became planets. And as the planets cooled, chemicals combined on their surfaces, in ever more complex ways, until one day life was born. And one form of life climbed from the ocean, and gained self-consciousness, the ability to observe that the observer and the observed are one and the same. And as he stood on his wobbly hind legs and opened his round wide eyes, what did he see? He saw the frybread-eating champion of the WOOOOOOOOORLD!"
(These quotes are taken from a recording I made -- the 40MB MP3 is available here, and it's definitely worth a listen.)
For more on competitive eating, check out this WSJ blog post on the medical aspects, complete with fluoroscopy!