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Competitive Eating Is a Growing Sport

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,


Mince pies: 6 pies in 10 minutes — Sonya Thomas

Nigiri sushi: 141 pieces in six minutes — Timothy Janus

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches: 42 sandwiches in 10 minutes — Patrick Bertoletti

Jalapeños: 177 pickled jalapeño peppers in 15 minutes — Patrick Bertoletti

Waffles: 29 waffles in 10 minutes — Patrick Bertoletti

Lobster: 44 Maine lobsters from the shell in 12 minutes — Sonya Thomas


shoneyjoe, people will die more immediately if they dont have food, I think it's the most important place to spend my "collective outrage"
I find it insulting as well. There are too many hungry people in the world. That food would be better donated to the poor in this country
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 9 years
All of you who think it's such a travesty to be chowing down on competitive eating while people are hungry - the same could be said of energy prices to light ballparks at night when some of our neighbors can't pay their electric bill, or NASCAR burning oil when gas is so expensive. Your collective outrage is better spent elsewhere.
Marci Marci 9 years
I find competitive eating a nauseating sport. I gag when I see a still photo of those hot dog contests. I agree, too, that it's a waste of precious food when so many people are hungry in our own cities.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i watched a special on MTV i think (true life maybe) about training for a competition in competitive eating, and it's just insane what people go through. i think that there's definitely a growing audience for it, but i'm not sure why exactly. it makes me physically ill just to watch it on tv - but i guess i'm not everyone right?
soapbox soapbox 9 years
I have a feeling that this would become an olympic sport.
melanie-RN melanie-RN 9 years
I gained ten pounds just reading this article....
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
How is this a "sport"??? Ridiculous!
blackjade blackjade 9 years
I agree with LaurenG22, I can't stand eating contests. There are way too many people in the world who don't have enough to eat on a day to day basis.
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 9 years
Lobsters from the shell? I'm guessing that was claws & tail only and not the good stuff inside the body.
gabiushka gabiushka 9 years
I find these practices insulting. What a waste of food!
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 9 years
How in the world do these people stay skinny!??! Is the body not able to digest all those calories or something???
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