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Top sporting events over the weekend according to ESPN? The World Cup quarterfinals, some baseball, the LeBron watch, and--right up there on the actual ESPN iPhone Top Events page--the Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest. Just when a competitive eating contest became an A-list ESPN sport, I don't know. (If you find this disturbing, and the fact that many are lobbying to have competitive eating made an Olympic sport, so does Psychology Today.)
Regardless of what it says about America, the 95th Nathan's annual hot dog eating contest was held over the July 4th holiday weekend, and won by professional eater and 3-time champion Joey Chestnut. Chestnut won by consuming 54 hot dogs and their corresponding buns in 10 minutes. But the real story was not Chestnut's hot dog tally, which was considerably under his 2009 count of 68, but the crashing of the event by Chestnut's rival Takeru Kobayashi, who was there as a spectator after a contract dispute kept him out of the competition.
Kobayashi, who won the contest 6 times before Chestnut took the title in 2007, had refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating prior to the competition. No, MLE is not a joke, but the "world body" that oversees all competitive eating contests, helped develop them in the first place, and includes the sport's governing body, the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Kobayashi was charged with obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, trespassing and disorderly conduct. He spent Sunday night in jail and was freed by a Brooklyn judge on Monday after pleading not guilty. He reportedly consumed a sandwich and a glass of milk in jail.
Nathan's was founded in 1916 by Nathan Handwerker, a Polish immigrant who opened a small hot dog stand in Coney Island with hot dogs made from his wife Ida's recipe. Just how many hot dogs the Handwerkers ate at a sitting is not known.