One of the more interesting stories I saw over the past weekend came from the Coney Island Fourth of July hot dog contest. If people do not know, this is an event held every July 4th and the objective is to eat the most hot dogs in the allotted time period. In the United States, the event is televised nationally (I believe on one of the ESPN networks) and people can place bets on the winner of the contest.
A little history on the event. Joey Chestnut, the winner of the previous three contests, captured the title by eating 54 hotdogs. Prior to Chestnut’s four titles, Takeru Kobayashi from Japan captured the previous 6 titles and finished runner-up the previous 3 years to Chestnut.
What makes this story interesting is this year Kobayashi was barred from participating in the event. The reason is he refused to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, who is the world body of competitive eating. Kobayashi would like to have the opportunity to compete in non-MLE exhibitions and by signing the contract, he could not. As a result, Kobayashi could not compete and Chestnut easily cruised to victory only eating 54 hotdogs. The previous three years, Chestnut ate 68, 59, and 64 hotdogs with Kobayashi providing stiff competition. Yesterday, the second place finisher only ate 43 hotdogs.
I find two things interesting. The first is that there is a sanctioning body for events such as competitive eating. The second is that Kobayashi knows that with his “celebrity” status, he can make money in outside exhibitions and does not want to give away that revenue generating potential.