We got up ridiculously early and took a subway to Coney getting there at just before 8:45am. It was hot. Too hot. Honestly none of us were really all that excited until the train approached. Looking out over the roller coasters and ferris wheels and seeing a crowd gathering around the stage gave us the kick we needed. We ran from the train, getting to the stage just as George Shea was rehearsing and Badlands Booker was preparing to sing frere jacque. We eventually found a spot right up near the stage and stood through the intense heat and opening acts we couldn’t see.
If you saw the broadcast or any media we were right next to the dudes in the facepaint who were all over the photos and videos. Never mind, media people, that right next to them were four un-facepainted ladies that happened to be the number one fans of competitive eating. But whatever.
There was still a little buzz over whether or not Kobayashi would be there…especially to me since they usually do a practice run of the intros and they didn’t do it this year…little did we know though, standing at the opposite end that Kobayashi was there. In the crowd. We had no idea.
The broadcast began and the eaters were introduced.
And then they were off, eating.
We couldn’t see a thing from where we were so we moved a bit and then could sort of see some stuff. There is no good place to watch live. I have determined that. You could think you have the best spot ever and then the judges come out and you can’t see a thing. I often hope that someday I can stand in the press box, but even then I’d be able to see wonderfully but not be able to get the photos I like to take. Not that I could get those photos anyways.
The contest seemed more subdued this year. With Kobayashi not a threat to Joey Chestnut he got in a comfortable lead and didn’t come close to his record (although, really, 54 hot dogs in ten minutes is nothing to sneeze at) and the crowd wasn’t as loud, weren’t all pushing towards the stage. Weren’t…as into it.
Oh, and Gravy kind of looked like he was going to reverse…and we really kind of wished he had because it would have made the show. But alas he kept it all in. :-(
And it was over with little doubt that Chestnut had won. He grabbed his Pepto Bismol and his trophy and his American Flag.
Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti ended up in third place with 37 and Tim “Eater X” Janus in second with 45.
And, apparently, Kobayashi rushed the stage…which me and my friends were totally oblivious to and we watched it on a handheld video camera in a bar afterwards and then YouTubed in back at the hotel. It was all rather odd. And I don’t even know what to think of it. Because a contract is a contract and you either choose to sign it or don’t. I mean even I have to sign an agreement that I won’t do any work that is a conflict of interest with the company I work for so I can understand the want to not have the eaters compete in outside contests or push products that compete with those of sanctioned contests. But at the same time I get a salary and guaranteed paycheck.
After the contest we went to a bar on the boardwalk. That had no power. And did I mention that it was hot? And finally the power and therefore fans came on and we drank some beer and mingled amongst eaters and zombies until it was too hot to handle.
And even though it was way too hot and way too crowded with a more repressed crowd and we couldn’t see and the competition was no competition, I’ve already planned to be there next year. Because it’s awesome. Because it’s worth it. And because it is so much better live than watching it on TV.