The Spokesman-Review : interns

Friday, July 06, 2007

Mark: 4th of July at the newsroom...

I felt lucky on the 4th of July to copy edit the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating championship story.
I don't really know why, but I've become pretty fascinated with the Japanese champ Kobayashi and this whole competitive eating culture. I also have a glow of pride because Joey Chestnut, the new hot dog champ, is from San Jose, my hometown.
My headline for the story: "U.S. champ eats 66 hot dogs in glutton gantlet"
I think that headline got changed, though.
Don't get me wrong. This whole competitive eating craze is disgusting, unhealthy and unnatural. But for those very reasons, the juvenile side of me is intrigued.
Few would deny that it's stupid, but there's a hint of human purity in the quest to achieve something despite bodily harm or common sensibility... even if that quest is shoveling wieners down your stomach.
I think it's the same reason why Evel Knievel had such a following even though he was performing motorcycle stunts that usually pulverized his body.
Fun fact: Evel Knievel supposedly is the only person who has broken every bone in his body. From his record of painful crashes, I don't doubt it.
But with pro competitive eaters, I'm curious what their real motives are for gorging themselves beyond any possibility for pleasure.
I doubt it's money. On Wednesday, Chestnut won a paltry $10,000 for devouring 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Unless he's getting massive sponsors or commercial deals, then I doubt he sees much financial gain.
Maybe competitive eaters do it just for the fame. But what kind of fame could one expect from chowing on hot dogs?
Whatever the reasons for why they pursue it, this whole hot dog craze reminded me of an awesome cartoon from SNL that was conveniently posted on YouTube:

Funny stuff!


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