I don’t know much about the Fourth of July, but the sense I get from watching from afar is that it is all about eating too much, drinking way too much, and trying not to blow yourself up with fireworks. Sounds like fun. It only makes sense, then, that the occasion is annually marked by the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The thought of watching people cram that much processed mystery meat down their throats is disgusting to me, but it’s on ESPN, and more importantly you can bet on it, so it is worthy of a look.
The favorite is the local boy and defending champ, Joey ‘Jaws’ Chestnut. Last year’s win was his first, but the list of vulgar accomplishments this guy has to his name is, well, scary – 59 peanut butter sandwiches in 10 minutes, 7 pounds of chicken wings in 12 minutes, and 47 grilled cheese sandwiches in less than 10 minutes. Just hearing that makes me want to never eat again. He’s the number one ranked eater in the world according to the International Federation of Competitive Eating. His odds to win are at 10/13.
The second choice is my pick. Takeru Kobayashi was second last year in this event, but that ended a streak of six consecutive wins. He was dealing with a few health problems last year (shocking!), but he is apparently back in fine form this year. A guy who is determined enough to win this contest six times is, in my book, determined enough to fight to get back on top. He knows how to win, he has something to prove, and that makes him a relative bargain at even money.
Proving that this is a two horse race, you can get 3/1 on the entire field outside the top two. That includes ‘winners’ like Patrick Bertoletti, ranked second in the world by the IFCE between Chestnut and Kobayashi, 2004 rookie of the year Timothy Janus, and 98 pound superstar woman eat Sonya ‘The Black Widow’ Thomas. They might be worth a hedge at this price, but don’t fool yourself – there are two freaks here that are far freakier than the rest.