In general, sports have been known to have a positive impact on one's health. The exception might be in the case of competitive eating, a sport that has developed a massive following this year. Although I have yet to understand the appeal of competitive eating, there's no question that it holds some aura of mystique, as it made multiple headlines in 2008; here are just a few of them.
A few months ago we noticed that competitive eating was a rapidly growing "sport": This year, 1.5 million people tuned in to ESPN to watch the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, and there's now a game, Major League Eating, available on the Nintendo Wii. Yet while it's entertainment for many, it comes at a cost for others.
Yesterday, Saurab Sabharwal, a 22-year-old engineer at Nokia-Siemens in Gurgaon, India, died during a company-sponsored pastry eating contest held in the office cafeteria. After choking, he ran to the bathroom alone, and was found unconscious an hour later. Colleagues called for an ambulance, which rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. This isn't the first death we've heard of from competitive eating. Last month, a Taiwanese student fell unconscious and died during a steamed bun eating contest.
Does this call for further measures to be taken, so that others don't get hurt? Should a medical expert have been mandated to stand by, just in case? Or should government officials consider placing a ban on eating contests?
Yesterday the world's best competitive eaters met at a pizza eating competition in New York City's Time Square. Joey Chestnut, the nation's champion in hot dog and hamburger eating, broke the record with an amazing 45 slices in ten minutes at the Famous Famiglia pizza eating competition. Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti was Chestnut's closest opponent — he ate 43 slices in the quick ten minutes.
Chestnut folded the regular cheese slices before launching them into his stomach. He washed the pizza down with water in paper cups and "never appeared to chew." After winning the pizza-eating contest, Chestnut is certainly the current star of Major League Eating. Although I find the whole thing pretty disgusting, I'm excited to see what other records Chestnut miraculously beats.
What do you think?
It may not be in the Olympics — yet — but competitive eating has become one of the world's fastest-growing sports. Last month, as many as 1.5 million people tuned in to ESPN to watch Joey Chestnut beat Takeru Kobayashi in Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. According to the Major League Eating spokesman Ryan Nerz:
At the big eating events you have normal guys who get up and do this thing well, beat a bunch of people, and all of a sudden they have a camera shoved in their face. They get a whole new group of friends, a blog, a MySpace page, fans. It very quickly becomes their identity, and it transcends their former identity as a waiter at a pizza restaurant, an accountant, or whatever.
The profile of a typical competitive eater has also evolved in recent years. The demographic has changed from the overweight, blue-collar male champions to trimmer, younger, white-collar competitors that include men and women. Many competitors believe in the Belt of Fat theory — that a skinny build allows the stomach to expand with less difficulty than if it were surrounded by a constricting layer of fat tissue.
Have you or would you ever try competitive eating? For some recent records in the world of competitive eating, read more
The excitement was incredible this morning at Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition. The reigning champ Joey Chestnut and the Japanese firecracker Takeru Kobayashi faced off in a shorter — 10 instead of last year's 12 — minute competition to see who could eat the most hot dogs. For the first time in history, after the ten minutes, there was a tie: both Chestnut and Kobayshi, who eat at basically the same pace, had eaten 59 hot dogs.
What happened next was a dog off: whoever could eat five more hot dogs the quickest would win. Although it was neck and neck, Joey Chestnut was victorious and walked away with the coveted mustard belt. When ESPN asked why he had won, Chestnut remarked,
It's fourth ofJuly and you can get through something like this. It came down to who needed it more, he wanted it but I needed it.
Anybody that needs to win a hot dog eating competition seems a little crazy to me. If you missed the competition be sure to check out the video: read more
Watching this video of our very own 7bits win a peach pie eating contest makes me wonder just how much I could eat for a prize. Do you think you could do it? Would you consider entering a food eating contest?