The 2012 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

If it’s July 4th, it’s time once again for the “wildest ten minutes in sports”, the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. As it does every year, One Foot Tsunami is pleased to provide you full coverage of the event. This year’s contest will once again be shown nationally on ESPN. However, it will not air until 3 PM today, on tape delay three hours after the contest actually occurred.1

Yes, dear readers, though it is the anniversary of the birth of this great nation, ESPN has opted instead to show Wimbledon coverage live, pushing the hot dog eating contest over to their online ESPN 3 “channel”. Showing a British tennis tournament instead of America’s own Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest from Coney Island, on Independence Day? Treasonous. Goddamned treasonous.

ESPN should also be ashamed for their gross marginalization of the women’s contest (much like last year). While it did air live on ESPN 3 at 11:30 AM, the production was simply pathetic. From the wide-angle still camera shot to the many spots of dead air to the meatheads who couldn’t properly operate the score flippers, the whole live viewing was a travesty.

Assorted Quotes From the Women’s Contest

  • …And you’ll put up a graphic, as soon as we go to live?…

  • Three minutes and forty-one seconds now left, ladies and gentleman…Sonya Thomas…Sonya Thomas has already broken her world record…strike that. My bun boy can’t count.

  • There’s some dispute with the judges now…As I told you, we’re gonna swear them in later [after the women’s contest], so technically they couldn’t be fined if they mess it up.

Sadly, but perhaps fortunately given the poor quality production, the women’s contest was edited down and folded into the men’s coverage. Elite female gurgitator Sonya Thomas shattered her own previous best (and world record), with a grotesque 45 hot dogs and buns, to capture her second Pepto-pink belt. As one announcer put it, the hot dogs were “falling like the euro for Sonya Thomas”. Ba-zing.

Now Let’s Bring On The Men

While the prize money is the same, the men’s event is the clear draw. Master of ceremonies George Shea gives it his all, and his brother Rich handles one-half of the television announcing duties (along with professional broadcaster Paul Page). There’s even a side-table reporter, “multi-platform media personality, television host, web entrepreneur, blogger, and spokesmodel“ Renee Herlocker (whose web site was apparently hosted on MobileMe). As a result, the men’s contest tends to be the source of the very best quotes.

A very literal answer on what it takes to win:

“You gotta come there…you gotta be hungry.”

Jason “Crazy Legs” Conti, on his outside interests:

“I enjoy movies quite a bit. VHS is my favorite format, and I own every Corey Haim and Corey Feldman movie.”

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, on training:

“It’s similar to a marathon runner training, and building up, building up, ramping up to peak.”

The only mention of Takeru Kobayashi:

“He is not here once again. But when you think about it, the last times that he met with Joey Chestnut, Chestnut put him away as well.”

The amazing introduction for five-time defending champion Joey Chestnut2:

“Too many of us are broken men, and we kneel at the side of the road, to be covered in the dust from the hooves of our enemies’ horses. We chew on gravel and we smile the smile of broken teeth and supplication. But one man will. not. kneel. One man will stand always, and he will cast you in his shadow. Because the rock on which he stands is not a rock! It is courage! It is hope, enough to sustain a nation!”

As the contest got underway, a few interesting numbers were presented.

By the Numbers: Assorted Hot Dog Eating Contest Numbers

  • 5: The maximum number of seconds a hot dog bun may be dunked in liquid.

  • 7.875: The number of pounds of deep fried asparagus Matt “Megatoad” Stonie ate in 10 minutes.

  • 10: Presumed value, on a scale of 1-5, for the stench of his resulting urine.

The Results

While the contest itself started off close, Joey Chestnut soon pulled away from the herd. Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti and Tim “Eater X” Janus both put up strong 50+ dog showings, but Jaws won by a comfortable 15.75 dog margin.3

Perhaps the best drama came in the closing moments. Like a shot leaving a shooter’s hands just before the buzzer went off, Joey Chestnut crammed two full dogs into his mouth as time expired. Once he’d finished chewing, he’d tied his own world record with 68 hot dogs and buns. In doing so, he won his sixth title, a “Jordan-level” feat. Another great day for America.

Do You Want More?

Just can’t get enough of this disgusting display? You can tune in for the re-run at 3 PM on ESPN or 4 PM on ESPN2. You can also read about the brothers Shea, who brought this exhibition to the main stage, in a rather incredible New York Times piece. Best of all though, for just 99 cents, you can try your (virtual) hand at competitive eating. Perform as your favorite gurgitator, and stuff, chew, and burp your way to victory in Major League Eating: The Game. Yeah.


  1. If you’re planning to watch the television broadcast, you may wish to avoid the hot dog spoilers contained in this post. ↩︎

  2. If you’ve got 45 seconds, listen to the full audio:

    Pitch-perfect. ↩︎

  3. 15.75 hot dogs sounds like perhaps the least comfortable “comfortable” lead ever. ↩︎