Thursday | July 30, 2015
Hot Dog Champ Inspires Young Would-Be Gorgers

CONEY ISLAND (CAP) - Joey Chestnut has done it once again, polishing off 69 hot dogs to grab yet another title at this year's annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. One year removed from "only" downing 68 franks, Chestnut continues to inspire scores of youngsters who hope that one day they, too, can ingest more than nine pounds of hot dogs in one sitting.

"He's amazing - the most I've ever eaten is 20," said Jimmy Flengerton, 10, of Cold Spring, N.Y., who was on hand to watch Chestnut's victory at the Coney Island contest. "But that wasn't for a contest or anything. I just love hot dogs."

And Flengerton isn't the only one. A recent survey sponsored by Kayem Foods, Inc. showed that close to 500 schools and youth organizations nationwide have formed competitive hot-dog eating teams, a number that is growing every week.

"The intense training involved really teaches the kids discipline and the value of hard work," said Mark Merclativich, principal of the Anadarko, Okla., Middle School, whose top eater - Billy "The Stomach" Stomkins, 14 - managed an impressive 40 hot dogs at the Oklahoma State Fair in 2011.

"Plus, Kayem paid for our new cafeteria," noted Merclativich.

Like in many sports, sponsorship is a big component of competitive eating. In addition to sponsoring local teams like the one in Anadarko, companies vie to represent professional eaters like Chestnut, whose current sponsor is Kraft, Inc., owner of Oscar Mayer.

"You'll find our logo on items like official Joey Chestnut mustard and relish and things like our new Joey Chestnut clothing line," said Kraft representative Michael Hirschberg, holding up a mustard-yellow apron emblazoned with the words "Kiss Me - I Just Ate 50 Hot Dogs!"

The Kraft logo, along with Chestnut's face, are also prominent on promotional items like key chains, bottle openers and Joey Chestnut "barf bags" distributed to competitive eating teams at schools and colleges.

Asked about health concerns involved in competitive eating, Hirschberg said the values taught by the sport far outweigh them. Besides, he said, "Hot dogs are an American tradition, like apple pie, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and angioplasty."

Young Oklahoma champion Stomkins agreed. "I'm definitely more disciplined than I was before I started competitive eating," he said, adding that the popularity that's come with his success hasn't hurt either. "Now I'm not just another fat kid - I'm a fat kid who can eat 40 hot dogs without puking," he noted.

The trend has also caught on in other parts of the world, even becoming a form of protest against totalitarian regimes. Protesters in Iran this week were spotted mounting impromptu hot dog eating contests in the streets, using contraband frankfurters smuggled into the country, where pork is banned. A video of the eaters squirting mustard into the eyes of policemen has become a YouTube sensation.

As for Chestnut, the man who started it all? "I'm truly honored and humbled by all the BLAAAGHHH!" said Chestnut, projectile vomiting onto the reporter.

"Geez, sorry," he added. "That happens sometimes."

- CAP News Staff

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Dept Of Veteran's Affairs to pay benefits to thousands of Vietnam War veterans who may have been exposed to Jane Fonda in the early '70s «» Massachusetts woman accused of forcing elderly mother to commute with her to and from work in order to drive in HOV lane «» World Trade Organization approves putting 'Country Of Origin' labels on immigrants coming into the US to help Americans better target their discrimination «» America's homophobes lobby in favor of gay marriage to "keep them off the streets" and protect the sanctity of the bar scene for straight men «» Protesters in Baltimore are congratulating themselves on "a job well done" and say Freddie Gray would have wanted nothing more than for them to destroy their hometown and all get arrested «» After avoiding jail for sharing state secrets with his mistress biographer, David Petraeus said if he had to do it all over again, he would because "the sex was really, really good" «» New York City vows to reduce its output of white trash by 90% over next 10 years, promises better class of resident "to make country proud" «» Utah becomes first state to offer stoning as death penalty option, saying it's a criminal's right to have their head bashed in «» General Mills announces plans to discontinue its new cereal Diabeteos, acknowledges that the sugar content may be "a little high" «» Society For Gay Racists up in arms over typo that has South Carolina calling for removal of the state's confederate fag «»