It is another year, and that means another Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest recap here at Place to Be Nation! Over the past two years, I have recapped this great annual event for you fine readers, and being a stalwart for tradition, I am ready to roll for 2015 for the 99th installment, live (on tape delay) from Coney Island! While the contest was going down, I was ready to head up to a party with some friends where this would eventually be the result:
So, with that out of the way, let’s dive in to some Americana with our favorite processed meat! My snack of choice on this evening is dry Cheerios and Granny Smith Apple Polar seltzer water, so I am ready to roll!
As always, our energetic Hall of Fame barker George Shea welcomes us to Coney Island from high above his elevated dais. After he hypes the crowd, we get a video package on reigning eight-time champion Joey Chestnut. As Jaws goes for number nine, he also has his sights set on the all time dog downing record of 69. Paul Page and Rich Shea are back in the house as our announcers and they discussed Joey’s chances and whether or not the young Matt Stonie can take him down. Last year Chestnut topped out at 61, but his streak of eight straight titles ranks pretty high all time.
Of course I will refrain from comment about how they can compare Chestnut to these sports programs and clubs but not mention the Undertaker’s streak on this graphic. I mean, come on…lay up city. Anyway, I digress. It is an impressive run of excellence and we are also likely Chestnut is still walking the earth after all of the sodium and meat he has consumed in these things. Shea claims Stonie is not afraid of Jaws any more after knocking him off in multiple challenges over the past year. We catch footage of the competitors busing over from Manhattan and get just a few basic words from Joey, the #1 competitive eater in the world. It will be a showdown for the ages, but first we take a break.
When we return, we are graced by this year’s sideline reporter Melanie Collins. She is fired up and I must say, ESPN hits a home run yet again with its coverage this year.
But, we can not move forward without paying tribute to our all time great sideline reporter who set the gold standard for the role back in 2013, Renee Herlocker. You are missed and will always have a special spot in the PTBN Hall of Fame, Renee. Come back someday!
Melanie is with boxer and Brooklyn native Paulie Malignaggi, who talks about how members of the borough back their own and have a collective pride in their hometown. He picks Chestnut to win the Mustard Belt. We then take a look at the personal records of all the other contestants besides Joey and fallen legend Kobayashi.
We now get a nice profile package on Matt Stonie, the real true challenger to Chestnut this year. He started his competitive eating career in his hometown of San Jose when he won a lobster roll eating contest and has been in the game ever since. He spends his summers visiting family in the Northeast and honing his eating skills wherever he can, including the Boardwalk. We also learn about his very successful YouTube channel, where the rising phenomenon once posted a video of his Michael Phelps Diet Challenge. As part of it, he consumed over 12,000 calories, including one sixteen inch pepperoni pizza (3,840 calories) and a pound of pasta (1,500 calories). He doesn’t clarify why it is Phelps inspired but I am guessing old Mikey knocked this stuff back after puffing the old peace pipe. Stonie talks about gaining notoriety on the streets and promises to push Joey on the Island in 2015. He wants to be the best in the world and feels he is ready after all his preparation. I am rooting for him. It is time for a change (of underwear)! Melanie runs through some of the other top contenders that could give this thing a run, including a D2 basketball player that won a regional qualifier. She also notes that Stonie is just 5’8″ and 130 pounds while the largest man in the competition, veteran eater Eric Booker, is three times his size.
We also have our first married couple entered into the competition this year as well as a female competitor from New Zealand, who was inspired by Matt Stonie’s YouTube channel. Maybe they will fall in love today as well? So many storylines here. Break time!
We are now back and hearing from Miki Sudo, last year’s women’s division champion, and the favorite that she upset for the strap in 2014, “The Black Widow” Sonya Thomas. Sonya is still bitter, you can hear it in her voice. I bet she comes back and wrecks Miki in 2015. And that means we flash back to earlier today for highlights of the female competition. And after a heated ten minutes, We check out the final ninety seconds and Shea notes the bout of dyspepsia that slowed Miki down a bit, but she still kept pace and retained her title. Sonya is reeling, buckling from the pressure and unable to back up her talk from earlier. Shea is all over Miki here, saying she is having synaptic misfiring and overheated cerebral cortex issues, leading to long pauses in action that could cost her. This dude has been studying the Gorilla Monsoon thesaurus. Page notes that Sonya wasn’t feeling well earlier, but no excuses, play like a champion.
Miki takes it 37 to 34 over the Widow to retain the gold. She claims she was not as prepared as a year ago and felt like she gave up a few times, but vows to watch the footage and come back better than ever next year.
No sports science this year? I always love that segment! Oh well. After a break it is now finally time to fire up the grill and get this sumbitch started. The bunettes and the Bun City Dancers have been entertaining the crowd through the break but now the legendary George Shea is set to introduce our competitors as only he can (and I can never keep up, so here are the names, but his introductions are worth seeking out):
Gideon Oji (From Nigeria, loves Moi Moi, is 6’9″)
Steve Hendry (Won Lincoln, NE qualifier, has eaten 9.5 pounds of boysenberry pie in eight minutes)
“Nasty” Nate Biller (Tamale-eating specialist, has a hard time understanding modern culture)
Jeff “The Beast Man” Butler (Former army cook that was disciplined for over-eating, ranked #12 in the world)
Pablo Martinez (Investigates the paranormal in his free time)
Crazy Legs Conti (Age 44, first appearance since 2012, once ate his way out of 60 cubic feet of popcorn)
Jeffrey Esper (Teacher, Rookie, qualified with 30 dogs in ten minutes)
Juan “More Bite” Rodriguez (Loves manscaping and wrestling)
Yasir Salem (Dumped his girlfriend and euthanized his dog so he could fill the void today; Cannoli eating champ)
Brian “Dud Light” Dudzinski (Beer Pong Champion of Phoenix, has eaten 30.5 moon pies in eight minutes, the Scion of the House of Bros)
Erik “The Red” Denmark (Shops at Ikea, drives a Volvo and cooks on a Viking range to celebrate his heritage)
Eric “Badlands” Booker (World Corned Beef Hash champion, big fucking dude)
You need to watch this entrance, just for George Shea’s amazing rap!
Adrian “The Rabbit” Morgan (Crawfish eating champion, has eaten lots of oysters)
Tim “Eater X” Janus (Absurd back story, he was basically raised as an animal in the Arctic, features Ultimate Warrior face paint and once competed on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)
Matt “Megatoad” Stonie (Put down 56 dogs last year, world bacon eating champ, the future of the sport)
And cue Baba O’Reilly…
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut (Again, you know the details)
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)
After a break, it is time to start the competition! But first, the rules! Also, no throne for Joey this year? An interesting foreshadowing perhaps…
Melanie informs us that Joey and his fiancé and eating coach have broken up, which is sad since he proposed to her on the stage here last year! However, he does have his brother Willie in his corner and he has never lost with his bro in his corner. Stonie doesn’t give a shit about any of this stuff and says Joey is his only real competition and he is ready to take him down. And with that, George counts us down and we are under way!
We zero right in on Stonie and Chestnut and as the first thirty seconds passes, Joey is one ahead with others hanging right with them as of now. Rich Shea is out of his mind, talking about how excited he is and what emojis he would be texting about this right now if he wasn’t calling it. Eric Booker is holding strong in third, but is already three off the pace as the first minute is gone. Stonie pulls within one as Page reminds us that Joey defeated Kobayashi three straight years during this streak. Booker is off the leaderboard as both Stonie and Joey are at 8.84 dogs/minute pace right now, both sitting at 14 with eight and a half minutes remaining. That puts them behind Stonie’s pace of 2014. We check in with Melanie with two minutes down and she talks about how Joey always knows how his day will go based on his early rhythm. Shea is worried about Stonie as he is keeping pace but the dogs are wobbling around in his mouth as he chugs along. He is tied with Chestnut though as we tick towards seven and a half minutes remaining. We check in with the Nigerian D2 basketball player as Shea reminds us of our conversation round youth earlier tonight. He is trying but is nowhere near the top. Stonie has passed Joey and Shea notes that Joey always finishes strong in the final minutes. We scan some other competitors as we are four minutes in with Stonie leading by one. “Two meats in one hand, a bun in the other” is the form a coach would love, per Shea. Can’t argue there.
Halfway through, Stonie leads this by one dog, pushing it to two shortly after. Shea talks about Joey’s tough year with the big breakup but said he was feeling strong coming in. He also notes that he will head to Panera to flirt with girls after this. As we hit the four minute mark, Stonie is flirting with a three dog lead. Shea reminds us that Stonie lead through most of this last year before falling apart late. Will history repeat itself? Melanie pops back in to talk about how Stonie hates to let his following down and is here to take the title to prevent that today. The dog per minute count is down as we hit three minutes. Shea compares Joey’s inflated stomach to Tom Brady’s footballs as our beloved color commentator is clearly in the zone right now. Stonie hits 50 with 2:25 to go, with Chestnut now three back. This could be the year, Nation! Shea is getting patriotic now, talking about these boys showing their love for America by destroying these hot dogs. He also thinks Joey will kick it in now, and any student or casual observer of the game knows he is killer down the stretch. With 90 seconds left, Stonie is still up by three. Joey is making a push…can Stonie stay strong this year? Will he collapse? Will Eater X make up a 26 dog deficit to win it? I can’t stand the anticipation…
Jessie! One minute remains! Stonie is up by two unofficially and Shea puts over the commissioner while taking shots at Roger Goodell. At least it sounded that way. Thirty seconds to go…Stonie up three! Upset is brewing! Youth is arriving! Tick, tick, tick, tick…AND MATT STONIE HAS DONE IT! WE HAVE A NEW NATHAN’S FAMOUS HOT DOG EATING CONTEST MUSTARD BELT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!
“One star ascending, the other declining…!” – Paul Page, 7/4/15
We have witnessed history as the official count finally comes in (Stonie: 62, Chestnut: 60, Janus: 35), Joey Chestnut has fallen. What a rough year for this guy. His fiancé, and now his Mustard Belt. Next year will be a true redemption story for us. Can Joey bounce back? Will Stonie let success and fame go to his head? What a contest! What a year! America!
Joey tells George Shea he had trouble, was slow and couldn’t catch up. And he looks heartbroken. George put Joey over strong before chatting with our new champion. He is elated, talks about his training and celebrates as a true champion should. Good for you Matt Stonie! After a short break, Melanie chats with Joey, who is giggling to suppress his anger. He is excited to have legit competition but then starts rambling about the consistency of the hot dogs. However, he makes no excuses. He also sounds like he may pass out and die on the spot. George Shea hands Matt Stonie the trophy…the King is dead, long live the King! Stonie is humble in victory but still exhibiting the confidence that got him here. Hard work, kids.
And with that, I am out of here…until next year, eat as many hot dogs and as many buns as you want because we are all champions and there are no heath consequences to doing so (there are likely many health consequences, so exercise proper moderation and responsibility when eating processed meats)!