The only real way to celebrate the birth of a nation…hotdogs.

Sports & Leisure Column
Written by Nathan Mattise

I think even more than fireworks, hotdogs have come to represent the beauty of America. They are mini, meat-melting pots that excel on a variety of fronts: on buns, alone, with macaroni and cheese, in croissant roles, etc. (How’s that for a stretch?) Regardless of whether you’re a dog or burger person, let’s all agree – competitive eating and America just go together wonderfully. Enter the 2008 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest last Friday. Here’s a quick live-blogged recap.

12:30 p.m. ESPN’s coverage of the event started at 12:30 p.m. (though there was a half-hour pregame show) and this meant there was a solid ten minutes of eater introductions. I have no idea who the color analyst is for these events, but the man can absolutely coin a nickname. The crowd was introduced to the Cal Ripken of Calorie, the Billy Graham of Ham (and yes, he is the first competitive “Christian eater”) and the Clay Aiken of Bacon.

Three other things worth noting:

  1. Competitive eating has reached the point as a sport where announcers can say there are “sleepers.” Patrick Bertoletti fills the role today. (They also had a package on him that I can’t find. His blog on Yardbarker will have to suffice).
  2. The contest was shortened from 12 minutes to 10 minutes because it was discovered that was how the contest was originally run. Yes, this means no matter what there will be new modern records set.
  3. Kobayashi’s hair is pink?!?

12:40 p.m. Reporter Jimmy Dykes interviews Bertoletti and he admits listening to Dillenger Four during competition. He should’ve went with the food mixtape.

12:41 p.m. Contest starts and the competitors start, “like Lindsay Lohan attacks a minibar – completely reckless.” Give this color analyst a raise, please. Top competitors like Chestnut and Kobayashi take a 10 or 11 dog minute to start but the play-by-play guy reminds us they’ll look to average 6.6 dogs a minute over the long haul.

12:43 p.m. This blog post will likely just feature the work of this color analyst: “We live in an era of Diet Pepsi and camera-ready Mike Golics. It’s nice to see them go at the dogs like this.”

12:44 p.m. Right at the three minute mark, Chestnut has already eaten 24 hotdogs. Seven competitors won’t reach that plateau by the end of ten minutes (and they include Crazy Legs Conti, who we just learned was this year’s Lumberjack Breakfast eating champ).

12:46 p.m. Half way tally: Chestnut 35, Kobayashi 33 (Eater X is the next closest with 25)

12:47 p.m. WE’RE TIED AT 40 DOGS! WOOO!

This is the beauty of competitive eating, never a dull minute.

12:49 p.m. “Tom Brady will win another Super Bowl, Tiger Woods will win another major, Lance Armstrong will date Jennifer Anniston – it’s in the cards right? But, trust me, Kobayashi will win another mustard yellow belt.”

12:50 p.m. We’re under two minutes to go and Kobayashi finally takes the lead. Did I mention I’m completely (and unjustifiably) in love with the man? He’s up two with one minute left (55-53).

12:52 p.m. The announcer called this “the most exciting finish in all of sports.” (Shocker). The end is intriguing solely because what’s in the mouth counts as long as it’s swallowed in a reasonable fashion, but it appears both Kobayashi and Chestnut are at 58 dogs when time expires…

12:53 p.m. To settle the first tie in Coney Island history…FIVE DOG EAT-OFF. There was some slight dog mishandling within the first minute and also the announcer reminded us you can see the distinct style differential (“chipmunking” v. reptile) between the competitors within the first minute.

If the end-result was different, there’d be more details here. However – despite getting up by a dog in according to the ESPN dog-tracker – Kobayashi was defeated in the five minute eat-off. Thus ending the 2008 contest in anti-climatic fashion. God bless America, but c’mon. Can you really root for Joey Chestnut?

Links today from Wikipedia, ESPN.com, YouTube, Google Images and Yardbarker.com.

If you want to yell at Nate for not being at a family picnic and having time to do this, e-mail him.
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