Gothamist has decided to liveblog this year's Nathan's Famous July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest. Jen and Tien will be providing color commentary; Tien will also be attempting to eat hot dogs competition-style
12:00PM - Announcers say there are 15,000 spectators at Surf and Stillwell. Crazy! And the media loves the Takeru Kobayashi-Joey Chestnut matchup. And did you realize that there are 320 calories per dog with bun!!!
Tien: Man, I hate George Shea. Talk talk talk. Blah blah blah...
Tien: Wow - they have some crazy sponsors! major league eating??
12:08PM - The camera pans across the crowd and contestants getting ready.
Tien: The Mustard Belt looks a little orange, no? Or is my TV all out of whack.
Tien: Nice Secret Service like security. There's gotta be some crazy terrorist threats on this event...
12:14PM - There's a feature on Joey Chestnut; when asked about facing the wall, Chestnut is all "I embrace the wall!" Nice! And before the next commercial, there's a tease for a segment about the revitalization of Coney Island. How apropos, given the NY Times' feature on Coney Island redevelopment today!
Tien: Ha! Mike Bloomberg eating!
Jen: Weird, they're hyping the Coney Island revitalization! What a commercial for NYC!
Tien: I wonder how Bloomberg likes his dogs. I didn't see any mustard or ketchup or kraut
Jen: He did have them at his inaugural gala
12:20PM - Segment about Coney Island's history and revitalization is shown. It's got nice renderings, a Mayor Bloomberg soundbite, and emphasis on how Coney Island is just 45 minutes from midtown Manhattan. Hey, where the reference to The Warriors? Now, ESPN looks at some of the newbies at the event, and one talks about how awesome Kobayashi - "The Tsunami" - is and how it's an honor to eat at the same table with him.
12:24PM - We're moments away from the most sickening 12 minutes in the world! Oh, it's a retrospective of Kobayashi's hot dog eating feats. The first year, they had to make up placards because they didn't think anyone could go over 40 dogs. Amazing.
Jen: Man, he looked so little his first year.
Tien: Wow, 2004 was an average of 8 dogs/minute??
Jen: Does Kobayashi look thinner this year?
Tien: He does.
Jen: He's not sleveless.
Tien: Some compare Kobayashi to Lance Armstrong's Tour de France titles and Tiger Woods' Grand Slam titles...but this is strangely more impressive.
12:29PM - The introduction of contestants, and we love the contestants' nicknames - "Erik the Red," "The Hague," Kenji "Dark Water" Ogunji, Seaver "The Achiever" Miller, etc. Also the championships they win - "Balogna Champ," "Jellybean Champ," "Spam Champ"...
Tien: Wow, Kenji Ogunji looks bad ass!
Jen: Totally! Aw, Crazy Legs Conti.
Tien: That Wall of Fame that they are walking by is actually really high up. It's impressive that some of the larger competitors can walk up and down the stairs!
Tien: Rich LeFervre is awesome. It's hard to believe that he eats all that
Jen: Aw, it's Badlands! He's a fan favorite.
Tien: How can you not love Badlands Booker! He's a train conductor for crying out loud.
Jen: Ooh, the Black Widow - lotsa whistles for her.
TIen: Mmm. I want to be a Key Lime pie specialist. Or maybe cheesecake.
Jen: Big cheers for Chestnut.
Tien: Isn't Jeannette Lee also "The Black Widow"? How did Thomas also get the nickname? Standard Asian woman nickname?
Jen: Kobabyashi's hair really is orange-y!
Jen: Hey, now they are saying 20,000 people are there!
Commercial break before the competition begins. And Tien is eating his Nathan's hot dogs using a modified Solomon method - breaking the dogs in half (it's modified because he's not eating both at the same time).
12:39PM - Interesting yet logical - the hot dogs are not actually hot.
Tien: Yes, it is important that they don't bite into the hot hot dog. That's what I did. It didn't feel so hot.
Jen: Joey looks like he's convulsing - but that's just his stizz
Tien: I'd like to eat that big hanging hot dog they have.
Jen: That hot dog counter is scaring me
Tien: Look how Chestnut compacts the bun into his mouth and then pushes it in more with the hot dog!
Jen: Hot Dog Cam from Seaver Miller - he's slow!
Jen: Ooh, Eric Booker has headphones on! He's probably listening to his own rapping!
Tien: I know! Get Miller off the stage
Jen: Wow , Bertoletti - impressive showing for a rookie so far.
Tien: People have to remember that the competition is 12 minutes. So it's not just about eating fast, but for a long time
Tien: Kobayashi is eating two at a time!
Tien: The worst part of my hot dog eating was the greasy water that was left afterwards.
Tien: Ugh, the spray zone.
Jen: Chestnut has the lead- 26-24!
Tien: The Axis of Eaters? Is that like the Axis of Evil?
Jen: Yes, but more delicious. And probably more gassy
Tien: 30 with less than half the competition finished!
Tien: Did he just touch his crotch?
Tien: Adjust his nuts?
Tien: And then eat hot dogs?
Jen: Ooh, Sonya Thomas is moving up! It's totally about being slow and steady.
Jen: Damn, 40 hot dogs already and 4 minutes to go.
Tien: This is where we separate the amateurs from the professionals.
Tien: I think Kobayashi will pull ahead because of his experience
Jen: Yeah - Dan says, "Chestnut may have fatigued himself by going so quick out of that gate - 40+ is where you need the stamina"
Tien: Chestnut looks like he's hurting. Kobayashi seems to be going strong still
Tien: It's like the wall in a marathon at mile 20.
Jen: Kobayashi pulls away!
Tien: I think we're going to see a new record!
Tien: I'm calling it.
Tien: There will be a new record
Jen: Okay - 54?
Tien: and Kobayashi will win - I say 54 1/2
Jen: I think Kobayashi knows he'll win.
Jen: Chestnut looks like he's going to explode!
Tien: come on!!
Tien: Reversal of fortune!
Jen: Ew! is there crap coming out Kobayashi's nose?
Tien: I think it was just loose bun
It's a new world record! Kobayashi eats 54 hot dogs in 12 minutes!
Jen: So, they let them just finish the last hot dog in their mouths?
Tien: Yeah. I think it's a matter of what you can stuff in your mouth.
Jen: Well, this is a new American record, right?
Tien: Yes - 52 hot dogs.
The judges revise Kobayahi's figure - he wins with 53.75 hot dogs. We can understand that - we feel like we saw a lot of hot dog left in his mouth. And now post-competition interviews.
Tien: I think he's still got hot dog left in his teeth.
Jen: Chestnut? Yeah.
Jen: He must have terrible breath
Tien: Breath? Can you imagine the hot dog burps later??
Now an interview through translator with Kobayashi. Essentially, he felt the pressure from Joey Chestnut. And he hit the wall at the 8th minute, thinking he could eat a lot a more. And he was ready to eat another hot dog right then. What we notice is that he had hiccups or some sort of reflux. We imagine it's going to be a rough night, but Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi is a six-time champ now.
So, Kobayashi placed first with 53.75 hot dogs eaten, followed by Joey Chestnut with 52 hot dogs eaten (a new American record!). The closest competition for the contest ever - we think this is the first time two competitors have gone over 50 dogs. And Sonya Thomas placed third, with 37 hot dogs (the same amount she ate as last year).
For the record, it took Tien 45 seconds to eat one hot dog - while Joey Chestnut could eat 4.3 hot dogs per minute and Kobayashi would eat 4.48 per minute. Bring on the Zantac!
Photograph of last year's contest from Katie Dickinson on Flickr