As the Fourth of July approaches, let take time to acknowledge the holiday is more than merely a day of national remembrance of the founding of our nation. We should remember it is also a time to celebrate one of America's favorite past times: massive consumption of food. That's right, the greatest competitive eating contest is nearly upon us, the 90th Nathan's Famous July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest begin tomorrow. Brace yourself. Here's a sneak preview
On July 4, 2005, the eyes of the world will focus on Coney Island for what is
believed to be the 90th installment of the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July
International Hot Dog-Eating Contest. Four-time world champion Takeru Kobayashi
of Japan will look to make history as he defends his title against top eaters
from around the globe. According to archives, the contest has been held
since 1916. This year, as in 2004, the event will be televised as a live,
one-hour broadcast on ESPN. Kobayashi, who secured his fourth straight win on
July 4, 2004, by consuming 53 Â½ Nathan's Famous hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, weighs only 144 pounds. His main competition this year is expected to come from Sonya Thomas, a 100-pound, 37-year-old Korean-born resident of Alexandria, VA, and Rich LeFevre, a 135-pound, 60-year-old resident of Henderson, NV. Both
LeFevre and Thomas hope to bring home to American soil the Coveted Mustard
Yellow International Belt, competitive eating's greatest prize, akin to the
Master's green jacket of golf or the Vince Lombardi trophy to football.
Go Sonya! Bring back the belt! Thomas however will will find it difficult to cut the mustard on July Fourth, Kobayashi is a force of nature. At the 2002 Glutton Bowl, Kobayashi ate 17.7 pounds of pan-seared cow brains losing in the final round to an Alaskan Brown Bear.
One must wonder if Nobuyuki Shirota will be among the 20 competitors vying for the belt. Shirota ate 38 hot dogs and buns last year and was Kobayashi's closest competition. Though at this time the full list of qualifiers does not appear to be available, I find the silence about Shirota odd. Perhaps he has chosen to concentrate on longer duration eating contests and sit out the frenetic 12 minute Nathan's contest. He has after all twice bested Kobayashi in the past in long duration eating competitions.