Hope everyone had a fantastic Fourth of July. I hope you didn’t blow any appendages off lighting fireworks and I hope you stuffed your face Chestnut-style with hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, sausages, chicken and anything else you could get your hands on and washed it all down with a your choice of cold, adult beverage. After all, isn’t that what the Fourth of July is all about. The freedom to make your own choice of food and drink.
If that’s not American enough for you then I hope the showdown on Coney Island at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Competition was. The Joey Chestnut vs. Takeru Kobayashi theme reminded me of Rocky vs Drago. The underdog American trying to beat the heavy favored foreigner. Like Rocky, Chestnut even draped himself in the American flag while the crowd chanted his name. And like Rocky, Chestnut gave an amazing, uplifting speech. It wasn’t quite as good as “if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!” but it was still noteworthy. Chestnut was asked when the next time would be the next time he ate a hot dog. “If I had to eat on now, I could.” What a great line from a great champion.
The similarities are scary.
If you didn’t see the competition you really did miss out on everything that is great about sports. Between the Chestnut and Kobayashi alone, they ate 129 hot dogs in 12 minutes. It was an edge of your seat, buzzer beating, thrilling, heart pounding finish. It was so exciting, Kobayashi couldn’t control himself and puked into his hands. Normally, that would be a DQ. But being the champion he is, Kobayashi kept fighting and ate his own “reverse of fortune.” That’s right, he had his throw-up covered buns. ESPN made sure you saw it too. They showed the replay about 753 times and several times in slow motion. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find of picture of him throwing up. If you find one, let me know where.) You haven’t truly seen someone throw up until you watch it in slow motion and then see them eat it again. Tasty.
Other than the reversal of the reversal of fortune, my favorite part was the “analyst” guy of the “play-by-play” team of announcers. At one point he described something “as annoying as a Peyton Manning cell phone commercial.” That would have been a great line except Manning’s cell phone commercials are great. I guess he’s not a fan of quarterbacks with laser, rocket arms. Then he said, if Chestnut wins, it would be the greatest moment in American sports history. Yeah, that’s about right. Forget Jessie Owens. Forget the 1980 Olympic Hockey team. They weren’t better than this. Hell, even the fictional Rocky over Drago was a better win for America than this.
But hell, it was Independence Day, it was an American over a Japanese guy and it was hot dogs. Maybe not the best moment in American sports but God Bless America it was entertaining.