Sunday, June 03, 2007

Joey Chestnut Broke My Hibernation

This miscellaneous guy is not a champion, merely a devoted patriot and wiener-eater.

Not hibernation exactly, more like estivation, that being animal dormancy during a hot or dry period. Many reptiles burrow down into coolness and cheese it in the summertime, so I'm not alone, even if I still haven't found a new snake den to call my own. But this news shocked me out of my posting torpor.

JOEY CHESTNUT has broken KOBAYASHI'S Hot Dog Eating Record!

As you may know, this currently infrequently-updated blog has in its storied past devoted space and awestruck affection to the phenomenon of Competitive Eating. (Great sport and competitor background from Larry Getlen of Black Table linked here, other posts with follow-up and related items here, here, here, and here.)

At last year's Nathan's Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, the pinnacle event of the hot-dog-and-bun calendar, young gobbler Joey Chestnut made a very strong showing in 2nd place, but failed to unseat the Master, Kobayashi, who exerted himself to a new record of 53 and three-quarters in 12 minutes. Yesterday in Phoenix, Joey finally lived up to his hype by setting a new record of 59 HDBs in the standard 12 mins.

I have nothing against champ Takeru Kobayashi, far from it. His fantastic tenacity and versatility at the acme of competitive eating achievement, as well as his willingness to be its ambassador in international media, have earned him lasting legend. It's just that true fans love to see heated competition emerge, even if it means temporarily toppling greatness, to push the sport and its champions further. And at 23, Joey C. has a lot of runway in front of him. Realize that just two years ago, I was posting a Kobayashi July 4th win with a record 49 HDBs. In slightly less than two years, the record has gained 10 dogs, a 20% performance increase! I have to believe it's at least partially the result of titan Kobayashi feeling the hot breath of a usurper on his neck and rookie Joey's passion to be the sport's newly crowned king. Where are the limits of human endurance and elasticity? Perhaps this July 4th, we'll see the competitors finally hit the wall, or just perhaps... greater amazements yet await.

For both athletes and afficionados, the next month will be a nail-biting agony of training, mental preparation, and building anticipation. Ladies and Gentlemen, on this July 4th, 2007, Coney Island will sizzle with the sounds of a Wiener Battle Royale!

No comments: