New York’s traditional hot dog-eating contest will once again have crowds racing on site and in front of the TV this year.
Last year, more than a million people watched live on ESPN the record gluttony of Joey Chestnut, living legend of this bizarre activity that finds its place on sports channels. After all, if darts are there, why not?
Chestnut, the 37-year-old world champion, gobbled down no less than 76 hot dogs in 10 well-timed minutes in front of thousands of spectators who cheered him on during his feat. Without vomiting, we specify.
I started slowing down in the sixth minute and they didn’t let go and pushed me kept going and I’m so happysaid the American last July on the platform, most likely between two reports.
A year ago, Chestnut therefore got his hands on the prestigious yellow mustard belt, emblem of the most famous competition of big eaters, for the 13th time. Among the women, the American Michelle Lesco won.
The math teacher at a school in Tucson, Arizona managed to eat almost 31 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
She discovered competitions of this kind by chance a few years ago and today she is ranked 9th, all genders, in Major League Eating.
Lesco holds many records, but the one of which she is most proud is having eaten 2.44 kg of mayonnaise in three minutes. (New window) If you have trouble digesting the last sentence, or at least believing it, the video is online.
I’m doing this because I’m an idiot, she laughs in an interview with Radio-Canada Sports. It’s a weird thing to do and I love doing weird things. The 10 minutes of eating hot dogs is hellish, but everything else around it is superb.
Around it is the crowd of thousands of curious people who watch and encourage these professionals in the abuse of ingestion every year. It’s the host on the platform who bellows nonsense, it’s also the energy generated by the event.
Ontario’s Darrien Thomas also has
tasted at the event frenzy in New York in 2019.
He failed this year in his bid to qualify for the July 4 event. Even though he finished several dozen hot dogs from the champion three years ago, he keeps a buffet of souvenirs from his trip to the Big Apple.
The atmosphere was crazy with the amount of spectators who came to see us eat, explains the cook, of course, 23 years old. The organizers must close streets. It’s the Super Bowl of contest eating. It’s always exciting to have the chance to participate. We feel like rock stars and the adrenaline pushes us to surpass ourselves.
A sport in its own right according to the participants
Gobbling up 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes is not within everyone’s reach. Oh no. To reach these standards of excellence, it takes years of training.
Darrien Thomas discovered these competitions somewhat by chance. One evening, he was to attend a pizza slice contest featuring the Japanese Takeru Kobayashi, several times world champion in the hot dog contest.
Since there was an empty place on the stage, Thomas joined the participants. He got hooked and has been training ever since to excel when it counts.
He managed to eat 6.8 kg of poutine in 10 minutes, 5 kg of strawberry cake in 8 minutes and 48 corn cobs in 12 minutes.
Before competitions, I will train a few times to eat the most hot dogs in 10 minutes, but outside of training, I generally eat very healthy, admits the Ontarian. I also drink large amounts of water to stretch my stomach. He has to develop a certain tolerance.
Michelle Lesco, who practiced cross-country, volleyball and softball when she was younger, believes that these competitions should be considered sports competitions.
It’s a sport because it takes practice and because we push our limits,” she explains. It’s a mental challenge that reminds me of cross-country, when my body was telling me to stop, but my head was telling me to keep pushing. I hated cross-country, but I was good at it. It’s a bit the same thing with competitions.
Darrien Thomas also considers the activity as a sport.
Some people will not share my opinion, but there is no doubt that it is because you have to be very strong mentally and you have to train to excel, says the young father. For me, I’m training my body to do something ridiculous and that’s what athletes in other sports do.
There is also a technique to master to devour dozens of hot dogs in 10 minutes. You won’t see, for example, a competitor garnishing his raw material with condiments.
Thomas, for example, uses the same technique as Joey Chestnut. He eats two half-sausages at a time, and then continues with the bread, completely soaked in water. For taste and texture, we’ll go back. For propriety at the table, too.
As disgusting as it may sound, keep in mind that bread is actually a sip of water that we use to lower the sausages. At first I thought it was disgusting, but now it’s part of my routine.
For Michelle Lesco, after the hellish 10 minutes of ingesting food, comes another crucial 10 minutes. If during this period you manage not to vomit, you have succeeded according to her.
In my case, in 10 minutes, the food settles in the belly and once you manage to do a few gas reports, you will be fine. The first few minutes are sensitive, but then it’s fine.
Bad taste contests?
If the conversations around this kind of contest generally lead to smiles or laughter, this is not the case in the office of Doctor Michaël Bensoussan, gastroenterologist at the Charles-Lemoynes hospital in Longueuil.
The specialist does not find these contests amusing, quite the contrary.
It’s not because I’ve become old or reactionary, but it annoys me and it annoys me, he explains to Radio-Canada Sports. Of course it’s funny and folkloric, but we gastroenterologists see the consequences of junk food every day in our overwhelmed hospitals.
I find that the message sent by these contests is really not cool in the same way as restaurants that name dishes heart attack, he adds. It’s a reality, when you eat a lot and fat, you have excess cardiovascular mortality. With the experience I have in my job, I don’t find it funny.
Darrien Thomas and Michelle Lesco, interviewed by Radio-Canada Sports for this report, are not overweight. Joey Chestnut, the undisputed champion of the discipline, suffers at most from a slight overweight. Even if they pay attention to what he eats in normal times, competitions can cause them damage.
These competitions, physiologically and for the body, are a disaster, analyzes Dr. Bensoussan. I can’t believe you can have all that amount of food in your stomach, which will pass through your intestines without any consequences.
The gastroenterologist estimates that a person, during a gargantuan Christmas dinner, can ingest up to 4000 calories for a single meal, while the body requires approximately 2000 to 2500 per day.
He estimates that these esophageal suicide bombers will ingest up to 10,000 to 15,000 in just 10 minutes, overloading the organs of the digestive system.
The intestine will no longer know where to turn to sort out the nutrients, the liver will no longer know where to store these foods. It will create bloating, abdominal cramps and tears in the esophagus may also be seen.
We will see hyperstimulation of the pancreas which will secrete a maximum of insulin to lower the sugar level and to store fat left and right and this can be in the arteries. The accumulation of visceral fat increases the risk of cardiovascular accidents and heart attacks, in short, it is a disaster.
Dr. Bensoussan warns that thinness is not an absolute bulwark against health problems. The stomach, although it can quadruple in size, can rupture when overfilled.
Bezoars can also form in the stomach.
Bezoars are a ball of food so big that the stomach will no longer be able, by making physiological and natural contractions, to break up and hunt, describes the gastroenterologist. This accumulation will be very painful, heavy and the only solution to remove this bezoar will be surgery.
Despite the risks, Darrien Thomas says he trusts his metabolism and reminds that he will not do this kind of competition all his life.
The hours after competitions are not necessarily pleasant because I feel both full and dehydrated from the salt consumed, he explains. If I damage my organism in the short term, I trust that it is resilient. I have fun while my body allows me.
Michelle Lesco compares contests to marathons.
It’s never a good idea to push your body to the limit, she realizes. You have to take precautions. You see people collapsing at the finish line of marathons, I don’t think it’s a good idea to run one either, but we all want to push our bodies. You have to be smart and do things right.
If discomfort and even rare deaths occur in this kind of amateur competition, it is rather rare to see it during the July 4 competition where the participants are regulars who first qualified.
Doctor Bensoussan recognizes that some people can count on hyper-efficient metabolisms that allow them to do this type of competition, he does not budge. It’s not a good idea.
All this seems to me highly unreasonable, he concludes. The message that I would like to send to people is to do good nutrition, it is to stop industrial food completely saturated with lipids and sugar. You have to reclaim good food.
Dozens of hot dogs soaked in water, even without condiments, are not considered good food for those who doubted it.