“I view it as my patriotic duty,” said American hero Joey Chestnut before the contest. “I’m following in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong, of George Washington, of that dude who invented the light bulb. It’s like I’m leading America back to its rightful place in the world.”
For the uninitiated, Chestnut is America’s leading competitive eater and best hope of dethroning foreign interloper Takeru Kobayashi from the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, uh, throne.
Earlier this year, Chestnut set a new world record by consuming an amazing 59 1/2 hot dogs in just 12 minutes. "I'd say that it just happened, but that wouldn't be the truth. It was the product of years of intense training." Chestnut has been eating competitively since 2005, when his stomach burst onto the scene with a dominating victory in an asparagus-eating competition.
Competitive eating fan Alexander Pope, who has attended every Nathan's contest since 1744, weighed in on the issue: "Chestnut has the potential to be bigger than Michael Jordan! The magnitude of this competition really can't be overstated - everything else just shrinks in comparison. This rivalry, between Jaws (the eating community's nickname for Chestnut) and Kobayashi, makes you realize how really unimportant things like literacy and mathematical skill are. Why would anyone want to read, when they could be learning how to shove an entire hot dog, with bun, into their mouth?"
"I feel like my entire life has been leading up to this moment," says Chestnut. "I'm proud to be representing my country in such an important matter. It's like I'm the ambassador to the Soviets, like I'm Thomas Jefferson and Neville Chamberlain put together, out to demand Napoleon's unconditional surrender at Versailles. I just hope I can do as good a job as they did."