Dave Walsh: It May Not Be A ‘Sport,’ But Downing 62 Hot Dogs In 10 Minutes Is Impressive

Dave Walsh writes, “I never would have believed that any human could eat and put that many hot dogs into a human stomach. I don’t know if this is a sport or if competitive eaters are athletes. Any way you look at it, that’s quite a physical feat for Joey Chestnut.”

Dave Walsh

July 06, 20234 min read

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There are those who refuse to call it a sport, and I’m not really sure myself it’s a “sport.”

But it is a competition, so that’s close enough for me.

This particular competition happens place just once a year — on America’s Independence Day on Coney Island in New York. There are smaller, more local, events like this around the country, but this is the so-called national championship.

It’s the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest. And on Tuesday, the most dominant competitive eater of our time won the event, again.

Joey Chestnut won his 16th championship by downing 62 hot dogs in just 10 minutes.

It is Chestnut’s eighth consecutive title, and it’s the second time he has won eight years in a row.

The champ was in rare form Tuesday. Actually, he was true to form as he defended his title.

No one viciously bites, aggressively chews and swallows as swiftly as Chestnut. And his gnashing of teeth and wolfing down mass amounts of dogs was at championship levels.

But 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes? That’s 6.2 hot dogs per minute, a dog every 9 seconds without pause for 10 minutes.

And it’s also required competitors eat the buns.

To look at Chestnut, he’s not a great big guy. He doesn’t even have a gut. I don’t know where all those hot dogs go, but it’s not into a big belly.

So where does it all go, and how on earth can one hold all those dogs?

Remember, rules say one cannot leave the competition and go relieve oneself. You are allowed to stand, even move around in place. You will often see competitors hopping up and down, I suppose in an effort to settle the contents and make room for more.

And, of course, if a competitor loses his lunch, so to speak, that is an immediate disqualification.

This is more than just eating a lot hot dogs. You must eat those dogs quickly. Very quickly.

This is truly an eating contest. It’s just as much a speed-eating contest as it is volume.

I never knew eating could be so interesting.

Oh, we may get a kick out of how someone eats, and we may be impressed at the amount of food someone might take in.

But this speed eating stuff is different.

It appears to be a matter of getting the hot dog chewed to a consistency where one can swallow, do it quickly and get the next dog in the mouth, virtually while the last is going down. Then repeat.

How does one keep one’s stomach from getting a bit unsettled during this onslaught to the system? How do they keep from getting full? I mean, so full to where you cannot eat another bite?

I think everyone has been there. And I think these competitive eaters must get to that point during a contest. In fact, many have admitted to being at that stage, but they have the desire to continue. These people have an ability to eat well beyond the feeling of full.

Some competitive eaters have convinced themselves that it’s all in their mind, not their stomachs. The most successful eaters apparently possess the ability to put the feeling of being full out of their minds.

Honestly, I never would have believed that any human could eat and put that many hot dogs into a human stomach. I don’t care how big a belly one might have, but 62 hot dogs?

Again, I don’t know if this is a sport. I don’t know if competitive eaters are athletes.

But any way you look at it, that’s quite a physical feat for Joey Chestnut.   

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Dave Walsh

Sports Columnist