Competitive eating has gone mainstream, with lawsuits and arrests

While millions of Americans celebrated Independence Day on Monday the old fashioned way — parades, BBQ, political gatherings, and fireworks to commemorate our country’s 234th birthday, several thousand folks with nothing better to do spent hours in the hot, summer sun on Long Island watching a panel of their fellow citizens who also had nothing better to do, chew and swallow as many hot dogs and soggy buns as they could within 10 minutes.  Who says America has lost its competitive advantage in the world?  One of our own once again has captured the annual Nathan’s hot dog-eating contest.

Stuffing as much food into one’s  mouth as possible and swallowing it without throwing up has now become big business in the U.S.  and in other countries as well (Japan being a major competitor).  There is even a franchise organization — MLE (Major League Eating) — that “governs” competitive eating contests that draw probably millions of viewers to events around the world each year.  There are cash prizes; and there is even a video game, complete with cartoon figures belching and passing gas.  Is this a great country or what?

In perhaps the most visible sign that competitive eating has established itself as a bona fide institution, it has now attracted lawsuits and arrests.  A former multiple winner of the Nathan’s competition, Takeru Kobayashi, was peeved that a contract dispute with MLE kept him out of this year’s contest, so he engaged in what appears to have been a carefully orchestrated ruckus at the conclusion of this year’s contest.  He was arrested, but in so doing was afforded perhaps more publicity than the actual contest winner; which was probably his goal in the first place. 

Even though Kobayashi is Japanese, he obviously understands that the real “winner” in many competitive events is the person who gets the most publicity.   Americans, always eager to spend their time and money on the most nonsensical of activities, are more than happy to oblige him.

25 comments Add your comment

Swallow Whole

July 7th, 2010
7:25 am

I six helpings of pork and beans once……..once.

interested observer

July 7th, 2010
7:47 am

So, Bob tries his hand at levity. Different.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

July 7th, 2010
7:55 am

Funny essay, captures 2010 America pretty well.


July 7th, 2010
7:58 am

God Bless America! Land of the free, and the home of the world champion hot dog eater! This is a libertarian nightmare, which calls into question the very nature of freedom – or more disturbingly – the wisdom of affording Americans’ freedom (specifically “the pursuit of happiness”). Only in a America, a nation where food is not a “right” do we… err… enjoy the right to watch others compete in the consumption of food. Then again, if pornography in certain forms is protected, I suppose gluttony isn’t so bad. But what I don’t understand is; I can understand a glutton. I like me some Ryan’s or Golden Corral, and I once downed a dozen Krispy Kremes before I got home from Kroger (the box was at the top of the grcoery bag, and I was stopped at a red light, and well, you know the rest), but I am more concerned about a nation where people are actually “entertained” by this (Justin Bieber, Real Houseswives of…, Lady Gaga and pro wrestling aside).


July 7th, 2010
8:00 am

oh, and Obama is a socialist, this is all Bush’s fault, and noby is taking my guns!

Not Going To Use My Usual Name

July 7th, 2010
8:34 am

Bob! You are playing into his hands! You didn’t even mention the name of the winner of this fine sport; you only mentioned Kobayashi!


July 7th, 2010
8:55 am

Perhaps someone should tell Barr that the contest is held at Coney Island, not Long Island.

The Oprah Effect

July 7th, 2010
9:04 am

The contests don’t go far enough. There shouldn’t be a time limit. Lets find out how much food one person can eat over days or weeks or even months. Most Americans sit around blogging and stuffing themselves all day long anyway. There’s probably some real talent out there.

I propose a contest where someone can just eat what he wants when he wants over a 48 hour period. Then a week. A month. and finally a year.

Oh, wait, they’ve already done this on Carnie Wilson’s reality show.

Never mind.


July 7th, 2010
9:15 am

Meestur Bob … I have sum more of my wifes cheese for you in honor or your countrys birthday. You can see how much you can eat too and geet in the TV again like the hot dog weiner.

david wayne osedach

July 7th, 2010
10:08 am

Watch what happens when someone dies from one of these eating contests.


July 7th, 2010
12:18 pm


July 7th, 2010
12:18 pm

MG – Coney Island is part of Long Island (as is a lot of New York City). It’s complicated, I know.


July 7th, 2010
12:30 pm

I have a grand idea. Georgia have a peach eating contest. I watched the hot dog eating contest and it was digusting, all those mouths crammed with hotdogs and food spatterings all over the place. Peaches would be more seductive eating, they’re round and fuzzy and juicy, it could be lewd and lascivious exhibition. There are 26 streets in Atlanta called Peach Tree Street, I got that information on a tour. I saw a giant peach on a water tower coming down on I-85, it was sensual, looked like,well, you know a peachy rear end. Would the state Nanny have to oversee it? Make sure that it was a healthy activity?


July 7th, 2010
12:53 pm

They should hold the competitive eating nationals in Springfield, MO, a bastion of fast food and all you can eat restaurants there has produced a population that is almost entirely overweight, and obese. It is truly sad. What also struck me as sad there was that the people came out to the fireworks displays and set hundreds of dollars of fireworks off, but almost none had a flag on their home, nor did the public display have a U.S. flag on display or play the national anthem. The country has gone to hell.


July 7th, 2010
12:56 pm

Bob…the country is going down th tubes and the most interesting thing you can find to talk about is a hot dog eating contest and some publicity hound. How did you aviod bringing your favorite topic of the “nanny state” into your observations?


July 7th, 2010
1:43 pm

Somebody needs to organize and capitalize on the obvious. The competitive colon blow and toilet filling contest. It’s something all Americans could strive for as champions.


July 7th, 2010
2:40 pm

Whiz, that is a bang up of an idea!

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 7th, 2010
3:10 pm

Hot dogs aren’t for me. I just can’t bring myself to eat anything with 2 navels.

Ivan Cohen

July 7th, 2010
4:21 pm

Gluttony as a spectator sport, man never runs out of way to take grossness to another level.

Competitive Eating - UGA Athletic Department

July 7th, 2010
4:29 pm

That is why Courtney was showing Damon her buffet.


July 7th, 2010
4:40 pm

If they had a breast milk cheese eating contest, Bob Barr would win.

Obama: King of Morons

July 7th, 2010
5:01 pm

We already have competitive eating with large amounts of food going to waste.

It’s called “The Government Food Stamp Program.”

Dr. Jack Kevorkian

July 7th, 2010
5:03 pm

Hotdogs are made of pigs lips and asses! Nice ascot Mr. Barr!

Sam ( The Cool 1 )

July 7th, 2010
6:18 pm

I think the Cisco Kid would arrest bad guys eating Tacos. So this shouldn’t be surprising.


July 8th, 2010
10:00 pm

whothe hell cares about a chink stuffing his pie-hole with hot dogs??