Hunger Games

Happy 4th of July!

With the 4th of July comes patriotism, fireworks and watching men and women eat 60 hotdogs in less time than it takes to sing the National Anthem.

That’s right, every Independence Day marks the Nathan’s Famous 4th of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.

Watching the hot dog eating contest brings memories of my time as a competitive eater. My career didn’t last long and I never made it to the big time. In fact, I only entered one contest and hot dogs weren’t even on the menu.

For a recap of that fateful day I would like to take you back to a story I wrote in 2005.

August 1, 2005

I have always thought of myself as a competitive person. I enjoy a good contest just as much as the next guy. I have participated in many competitions throughout my life, but none as intense as the one I endured yesterday. Let’s just say it was a mouthful (haha, you will get it in a minute).

The competition I was a part of yesterday was a competitive eating contest. The day before, I had watched the US Open of competitive eating and became intrigued. Before I get to my contest I will first give a quick summary of the Open. There were a couple of different races (I guess that’s what you call it) with a skinny Asian guy and a skinny Asian lady competing for the title (I guess that’s what you call it) in every category.

The Open was great, not only could I watch people eat unhealthy amounts of food, I could also hear a wonderful breakdown of what was going on. They had grade A commentators. They not only pointed out what the people were eating, they helped explained the true strategy behind it all. One memorable quote used to describe the eating was something like “look at the power.” Power indeed. Not just anyone can shovel salad into their mouth, it takes a very powerful individual.

After watching the Open, I knew that I had been raised playing the wrong sports. If I had only known about competitive eating at an earlier age, I could have focused on that instead of wasting my time on other sports that would get me nowhere in life.

Although I had yet to eat anything competitively, I had been eating for over 19 years and I figured that was better than nothing. Was it too late to start training to become the best?? There was only one was to find out.

So I decided to have a contest against another promising amateur to see if I had a future in the sport. My opponent…none other than my younger brother. He’s quite the little eater, but I had the experience edge. He has only been eating for a little over 15 years. I thought it would be tough, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

So the table was set (haha). The plates consisted of 2 hamburgers, 10 chicken nuggets, and 2 soft pretzels. The first to finish wins. So we were off…my strategy was to go from pretzels to nuggets to hamburgers. I don’t know what Christopher’s plan was because I was too focused on winning.

About halfway through the plate, I began to feel it. Was it the feeling of victory??? No, not at all. It was the feeling of stomach ache. I wanted to stop. The pain was just too much, but I fought it. I had always been taught to “Go Hard or Go Home” and since I was already at home I knew that I only had one other option.

After about 10 minutes, the dust had settled and I had won. By a whole hamburger. Was I that good, or was Chris just way smarter than me and had given up? We may never know. But what I do know, is that my competitive eating days are over. I will retire on top. Undefeated. I want to retire 1 and 0. Mostly because I am afraid I might die if I try it again. From now on, I will stick to eating for survival only. But the contest taught me many things that I would forget. Most importantly…I’m an idiot.


Photo credit: Wikipedia