Happy Independence Day to all! It goes without saying that yours truly is a man of traditions and there is no tradition greater than stuffing your face with hot dogs at a rapid pace during a summer cookout, meaning the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is as peak tradition as it gets. And I love reviewing it each and every year! As usual, we are deep inside the ass end of Brooklyn on Coney Island where the festivities occur each and every year at the original home of Nathan’s Famous.
We open things up with a red hot opening video package narrated by the King, George Shea, highlighting Joey Chestnut and his quest for a record setting 10th victory as well as his two top contenders for the contest. Let’s get it on! We open with Paul Page running down the history of the contest and what lies ahead of us tonight in both the men’s and women’s competition. 1,500 hot dogs and buns have been grilled up for today, but that is just a fraction of the mind boggling 150 million dogs that will be consumed throughout the country on its 241st birthday. As you know, last year Chestnut set the world record by ingesting and digesting 70 dogs, topping his previous best of 69. That mother fucker can eat.
Page tells us Chestnut has also hit 73 dogs in a local qualifier and wants to go even higher than that. He then brings in his cohost Rich Shea to officially kick off the show and Shea compares Chestnut’s dominance to other great legends in sports. They remind us that Matt Stonie is the only man to beat Joey in the last ten years and is always a threat, as is upstart Carmen Cincotti. Paul then welcomes in Melanie Collins, who is working the sidelines for the third year in a row. Just in case you forgot what Miss Collins looks like…
… there you go. However, as is the norm, we must stop to pay tribute to our favorite Nathan’s Famous sideline reporter of all time. The First Lady of Processed Meat Consumption Contests, the gorgeous Renee Herlocker.
Where have you gone, Renee? Come back to savor our salty, meaty goodness just one more time! Anyway, Melanie is with Joey, who is excited and happy to be here in great weather and in front of a great crowd. In these conditions he feels he can do some real damage but you never know when the body can toss you a curveball. Always humble.
After a break, we head to a some clips of Rich Shea visiting the boardwalk over the weekend to talk to folks about the contest, ask some trivia and some drop knowledge on American history. He even ponders which legendary historical figure could have won a hot dog eating contest back in 1776…
The segment was fine enough but dammit I miss Sports Science so much. That shit was entertaining AND educational! We then head to another video package that has a look as Joey Chestnut’s long road back to regaining his title and happiness after a loss and tough stretch of life in 2015. The most interesting stuff here is when he talks about retraining himself and learning about his mouth and jaw muscles. He expects to hit between 75 and 82 today and getting to a tenth title is really important to him. Here is a look at some stats that prove what a legend he is:
After a commercial, it is time for our women’s contest. We hear from the reigning champion Miki Sudo, who is looking for an unprecedented fourth straight title and breaks down some of the competition she will be facing this afternoon. We then get clips of the contest, which occurred about 30 minutes ago. The battle was fast and furious as always, but after struggling early, Sudo outlasted Sonia Thomas and Michelle Lesko to grab that record breaking fourth straight mustard strap. Good for you Miki Sudo. Lesko was red hot to open up but started paying way too much attention to Sudo and it cost her. Also, we had a little controversy as the official had Sudo at 36 but she made him count her plates and proved out that she actually knocked back 41 dogs! Beast.
Michelle chats with Miki, who says she was more prepared than ever and is thankful for the support she receives. She talks about the minor controversy but was confident in how much she had eaten and worried about it after the bell. She puts over her friend Lesko as well, saying they practice together at home as well. Miki forever!
As we continue to push new stars, we get a spotlight package on Carmen Cincotti from New Jersey. Carmen has eaten 1,000 hot dogs since May to prep for this event. Cincotti grew up idolizing Joey Chestnut but feels he has to take him down and win the Mustard Belt before Joey retires or else any titles he wins won’t mean as much. Melanie is with ex champ Matt Stonie and he talks about how great Joey is and how he is feeling great and is ready to compete. The Bunettes arrive and dance for the crowd as we thank Randy Watts, the VP of Nathan’s that is retiring this year and also give some final preparatory comments as George Shea is gearing up for the most epic part of the day: his competitor introductions.
As always, I can in no way do this justice… you need to watch and marvel for yourself. As George Shea spits gold, here are your competitors for the 2017 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest:
Pedram Esmaeelzadeh (Fitness enthusiast that loves all exercise… except for all kinds of exercise that Shea lists)
Matthew “Sweet Tooth” Cohen (First appearance at Coney Island, specializes in candy and pies, qualified in Louisville)
Juan Neave (A rookie that qualified in San Antonio)
Derek Jacobs (Another rookie, but he stands 6’5″ and is into weightlifting)
“Buffalo” Jim Reeves (Reigning pork rind and watermelon eating champion and a chicken wing specialist)
Pablo Martinez (His spirit animal is a bologna sandwich and has knocked down 25 dogs and buns in the past)
Josh Miller (Ranked #18 in the world and qualified in Denver)
Brian “Dud Light” Dudzinski (The moon pie champion of Pennsylvania and is in absurdly good shape for this)
Juan “More Bite” Rodriguez ( Loves manscaping and personal training; has eaten 68 tacos in six minutes)
Erik “The Red” Denmark (Qualified in St. Louis and is the world shrimp eating champion)
Rich “The Locust” LeFevre (“There is more of his past than there is of his future”; oldest competitor ever at age 73; big spam guy)
Steve Hendry (#19 in the world)
Adrian “The Rabbit” Morgan (Oyster eating champion,has event 20 hard boiled eggs in 84 seconds)
Yasir Salem (Cannoli eating champion; #12 in the world; has eaten 47 ears of sweet corn)
AND YES IT IS THAT TIME! GEORGE RAPS OUT ERIC “BADLANDS” BOOKER!
The fucking best. Go watch it. It is amazing.
Eric “Badlands” Booker (The fucking man)
Gideon Oji (The kale eating champion of the world; 6’9″ tall)
Darron Breeden (Rookie ranked #17 in the world; has eaten 38 hot dogs and buns)
Geoffrey Esper (Teacher with a grad degree in physics; pepperoni roll world champion; has eaten 51 dogs and buns)
Carmen Ciccotti (Has eaten 53 dogs and buns, most by any non-Chestnut contestant; “his dream is to crush your dream”; known as “The Mutiny”; defeated Joey Chestnut in the bratwurst world championship)
Matt “Megatoad” Stonie (130sh pounds and former Nathan’s Famous World Champion, the only man to beat Chestnut in the last decade)
And it is time for our Champion, who gets an epic introduction, as you would expect…
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut (The GOAT)
Again… no Tim “Eater X” Janus this year? Where did he go? Where could he be?
And of course, we always pause to ensure we never forget Jeff Machado (Most slices of pizza eaten during one period of playoff hockey in 2013)
We take a break to let that all settle and after that commercial we get one last hype package for Nathan’s and the contest… from the perspective of the bun. Melanie then drops a bit of science on us, letting us know that the average stomach is the size of a nerf football and can expand by about 15% of its size. While most people work on a 2,000 calorie diet, last year Chestnut banged down 27,000 calories in ten minutes! That is fucking insane. Chestnut is confident that his max would be 90 dogs, if no shot clock were involved.
After that, George Shea officially counts us down and we are under way! The dogs and buns are flying and the calories are quickly piling up as Stonie and Salem are hanging with Chestnut out of the gate. Shea reminds us that this is the greatest event of the summer and Chestnut is the great unifier. We are less than a minute in and Chestnut has already doubled up Stonie is on pace for 11 dogs per minute, which is huge. Shea breaks down the ingestion of the dogs as Chestnut is cruising with his efficient delivery system. Cincotti finally moves into second place but is still five or so dogs back as we tick past the second minute. Ester passes Cincotti as Chestnutt is just on fire, reaching the 25 mark with around 7:40 to go. Esper is legit, putting back 51 in the qualifier but Shea says if he passes Stonie, it would be a shock. Cincotti is within three as we hit three minutes in and Stonie is now 13 back. Chestnut is at 35 with 6:30 to go and it looks like he is going to easily romp to this tenth title. Shea reminds us of what was going down in pop culture back in 2007 when Chestnut won his first title.
As we tick under 6:00, Melanie checks in to talk about Chestnut’s pacing and says if he gets to 48sh or so at the 5:00 mark, he can smash the record. Chestnut is currently on pace for 88 dogs with 5:30 to go and actually passes that as he hits 46 halfway through. Cincotti is only six back, hanging around and holding a ten dog lead over Stonie.
Shea talks about how Cincotti has been trolling Chestnut on Twitter and he is certainly hanging in here. He also talks about how Stonie is favoring his left side as he labors through this. Joey’s pacing has slowed but he is still killing it, checking in at 57 dogs at the three minute mark. Shea says a tenth championship for Chestnut would be the biggest story of the year and Joey is at 62 with two minutes left to go. Cincotti has stayed within shouting distance, God bless him. Stonie is 20 back, he is looking more and more like a flash in the pan at this point. As we hit the final minute, Chestnut is at 66 and has a shot at the world record of 73.5! Things get tense as Chestnut chokes down the salted meat and the crowd is chanting him on to at least top the Nathan’s record of 70. He hits it at :10… and then forces down two more to easily pass his record that he set last year! That’s a lot of sodium.
Cincotti ended up finishing second with 60 dogs, a strong as hell performance. Stonie hung on for third but was way back, finishing 24 out of first. Good night the lights for you, Matt Stonie!
And my Lord, look at this list of great champions throughout all of sports! Chestnut is a true legend.
George Shea officially crowns Chestnut with his tenth Mustard Championship and a Nathan’s Famous record. What a moment. The electricity is crackling, Shea’s voice is cracking and the crowd is going bananas. History has been made once again here in Coney Island. Melanie squeezes her way in and chats with Chestnut, who puts over his competition and the weather but says he still came up a little short of his goal. He also says he was sweating like a “mad dog”… how did he know I was going to use that picture above? This guy does it all. He says he treats this like a sport and it isn’t just going to a buffet. He constantly is improving and makes his body work for him. What a legend.
That will do it as another great year is in the books. Joey Chestnut is still World Champion and all is right in the world for another twelve months. And the story lines are already in play for next year: can Chestnut break that world record? Will Stonie recover and get back on track? Can Cincotti make the leap? We will find out 365 days from today! Until then, always remember…
Clear eyes. Full Stomach. Can’t lose.