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Competitive Eating Exposed

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It is a muggy July day in a packed amusement park in New York. Thousands of people are crowding around to catch just a second of the next twelve minutes. The smell of hotdogs and lemonade is more abundant that any of the other smells at this time. This is July 4 at Coney Island. The Nathan’s Famous Hotdog Eating Contest is about to start. In the next twelve minutes over sixty people will eat at least ten hotdog and as many as sixty!

Competitive eating is an exciting sport that anyone can take part in. There are many organizations for competitive eating, but the most famous is the International Federation of Competitive Eating or IFOCE. There are many events each year. The foods eaten at the event will vary for each event. In New Orleans, there is an oyster eating contest. In Philadelphia, there is a very famous chicken wing eating contest.
There are two different types of events. There are events with set time limits and events with set food amounts. In the first there is a set amount of time and the eater sees how much they can eat in the time limit. The Nathan’s Famous Hotdog Eating Contest has a set time limit. An eater has twelve minutes to eat a lot of hotdogs. The latter of the events has a set food amount; this means that the eater sees how fast they can eat an amount of food. In the ‘90s, when competitive eating was only famous on extreme sports channels in Japan, an American eater was invited to Japan to take part in an interesting challenge. He was taken into a room and was given 30 square feet of sushi arranged in a line. He ate the sushi in a little over thirty minutes. In New Orleans another event with a set time limit took place. At Acme, a seafood restaurant, oysters on the half shell were being sold a $.50 a piece. Crazy Legs Conti, a local eater, went there and ate over two hundred oysters. His picture and his record can still be seen framed on the walls.
The rules of the sport are very simple and can be explained in three words. The slogan “Eat Lots Fast” summarizes the rules is a very important phrase for some eaters. The contestant wants to eat as much as they can. If they throw up, they are disqualified. After the event an eater is on the honor system, if they want to throw up they can, but that is cheating and God knows.
Before last year, the world of competitive eating was dominated by one man. This man was the Japanese Takeru Kabayashi. Kobayashi is one of the greatest competitive eater ever. In the 2005 Nathan’s Famous Hotdog Eating Contest he ate 56½ hotdogs. This was a personal best and beat the world record set by him the last year. The closest person to him was Sonya Thomas who ate almost 35 hotdogs. One reason Kobayashi eats so quickly is his technique. He eats two at a time. He grabs two hotdogs and rips them in half. The two halves in his right hand he dips in lemonade and eats in one bite. He repeats this process with the two halves in his left hand. Another reason he was so unbeatable last year was that while he ate he was constantly shaking his body from side to side. This movement is referred to as the Kobayashi shake. By shaking his stomach while he eats, the food in the stomach is compressed to create more room for more hotdogs.
It was also rumored that before the eat-off he ran twenty mile and ate nothing so that he would have all the room in his stomach and no fat on him. One would think that in competitive eating your size would not matter, but in actuality it matters as much as it does in other sports. According to the “Belt of Fat Theory,” the stomach can expand until the skin on the outside of the body cannot expand anymore. If this is true, then an eater does not want anything to interfere with the expansion of the stomach. Fat will get in the way of the stomach’s expansions causing the eater to get full quicker.
This year Kobayashi was defeated. In his second year as an eater, American Joey Chestnut ate 66½ hotdogs; Kobayashi ate 65. Before the eat-off Kobayashi said that he was having jaw problems and may not be able to perform at his best. Would Kobayashi have been able to eat 67 hotdogs if he had been in perfect condition? No one knows. If Kobayashi ate 67, would Chestnut have been able to respond and eat 68? No one knows. Jaw problems aside, the 2008 Hotdog Eating Contest will be one worth watching.
Competitive eating is the quickest growing sport in the United States. It is quite simple and most people practice more than once a day. Watching the events are very exciting and when someone watches the events they might be watching history since a record is set a almost every event. This year’s Hotdog Eating Contest had a huge record shattering result. It was also exciting to watch someone who the year before ate twelve hotdogs beat someone who ate fifty in 2007. Competitive eating is an exciting sport that everyone can take part in.





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