Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Frank-ly Blogging: 2007 Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest

NEW YORK, July 4 — "My jaw has refused to fight anymore," Takeru Kobayashi, the reigning, six-time Nathan's Hotdog Contest champion, has been quoted as saying in recent days. The world shall soon see whether he can fight through the pain or whether newbie, American Joey Chestnut, can bring the Mustard Belt back to the States.

We were going to watch the competition live at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, but with a threat of showers and a late-rising blogger, we opted to liveblog this famed contest from the Manhattan Valley, in the relative comfort of the apartment. The view will probably be better from here anyway, thanks to our friends at ESPN.

Without further adieu, let the liveblogging begin.

12:07 Kobayashi is on scene, after reportedly receiving some last-minute acupuncture to relax his arthritic jaw and arriving in a private car with a petite Japanese girl in tow.

12:15 ESPN commentators are estimating that there are more 30,000 spectators at Surf and Stillwell. Patrick Bertoletti reportedly beat Joey Chestnut in a jalapeno-eating contest and could be a threat to win today. Eater X, last name Janus, is also a contender, ESPN reports.

12:19 ESPN filler about Coney Island — As you may know, this is “the last summer” of Coney Island, with a luxury residential development slated to go in starting in fall 2007. More on that from your faithful blogger here at B.S. after a visit.

12:22 Joey Chestnut is the world champion in gyoza eating (Japanese dumplings). 212 in 10 minutes. We’re full after six.

12:24 ESPN cuts to commercial, promising introductions upon return, and noting their reporters have not been able to find Kobayashi in the last few minutes.

12:28 Introductions have begun: wild-card Tim Brown, burrito specialist; former-baloney eating champion of the world; Dale “Mouth of the South” Boone, reindeer sausage-eating champion and direct descendant of Daniel Boone; Crazy Legs Conti, from the Lower East Side of Manhattan; Juliet Lee, 11 slices of pizza in 10 minutes; Erik “The Red” Denmark, world fry bread champ; Patrick Philbin, 360 pounds, four pounds of corned beef in 10 minutes, 27 hot dogs in previous competition (ESPN commentator: “They call Iverson the answer, I call this guy the question”): Arturo Rio Jr., a rookie; guy who ate 23 grilled cheeses in 10 minutes; “Humble” Bob Shoudt, who only eats in sanctioned competitions and only eats meat in competition (vegetarian otherwise); Rich “The Locust” LeFevre, birthday-cake eating champion, 63-years old; Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, eats 10-percent of her body weight, and jambalaya-eating champ of the world, among other titles; Chip from Birmingham, Ala., ; Tim “Eater X” Janus, 2004 rookie of the year, claiming that Hermione dies in Harry Potter VII; Patrick Bertoletti, 177 jalapenos in 10 minute; Joey Chestnut, the new threat; and from Nagano, Japan, the six-time reigning champion, Takeru Kobayashi.

12:38 With the competition to get underway shortly, our prediction is that we’ll be able to tell within the first few minutes of eating whether Kobayashi will be able to continue his reign as champ. We, and the world, will be watching his pace closely. More to follow.

12:41 And they’re off.

12:43 Chestnut is at 10 dogs in 50 seconds.

12:44 Two minutes in: Chestnut 20; Kobayashi 18.

12:46 Four minutes in: Chestnut 35; Kobayashi 29.

12:48 Half-way through the eating: Kobayashi is pulling closer; Chestnut 43; Kobayashi 41.

12:50 Four minutes left: Chestnut 51; Kobayashi 49.

12:52 Two minutes left: Chestnut 57; Kobayashi 56. The entire free world is watching, ESPN reports, and Bertotletti is dedicating his eating to Nicky Hilton because she lives in Paris’s shadow, while Bertoletti eats in the shadow of the champ.

12:53 One minute left: Chestnut 60; Kobayashi 60.

12:54 And the winner is: too close to call.

12:55 The winner is up in the air. Joey Chestnut had 63 at the close, and Kobayashi seemed to have put 63 in his mouth, but there may have been what the competitive eaters call a “reversal” at the last second, with Kobayashi spitting out some of his consumed food. The champ had his hands over his mouth during the alleged reversal, and the crowd could see water come out through his fingers, but it’s unclear if he lost dogs and buns too.

12:57 Unofficial results: Joey Chestnut, 66 dogs; Takeru Kobayashi, 63 dogs.

12:58 “In first place, with 66 hotdogs and buns, Joey Chestnut.” The announcer could be seen saying to Chestnut, just before announcing him as the champ, “Put the flag up,” handing him an American flag. Joey says to ESPN, “If I need to eat another right now, I could.”

ESPN commentators: “It’s just an emotional day for Joey, a great day for America.”

Final Notes:
When it was clear that Joey Chestnut had an edge and could bring home the Mustard Belt, ESPN commentators declared it would be “the greatest moment in the history of American sports, if the belt were to come home to Coney Island.”

Continuing, ESPN’s commentators said, “He may indeed have changed the course of this nation. He is a true American hero.”

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