By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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hotdogsI’m the last one who should criticize.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m all about food. I wake up thinking about food and I go to bed thinking about food. I plan my days around meals, deciding what I’m going to eat, or feed the masses, should there be masses that day to feed. (There usually are.)

My conversations often center on, or at least, circle back to, food. (Husband, Dave, frequently walks into a room while I’m in mid-conversation on the phone and starts smirking. If I’m talking food, I’m talking to my mother, who gifted me with this affliction. Thanks, Mom.) And there’s rarely an outing that doesn’t involve me being fed and watered, something Dave knows he must factor into every foray from home that lasts more than two hours.

Should there be more than a two-hour stretch when I haven’t eaten, well, let’s just say it ain’t pretty. On more than one occasion, I’ve been instructed by my husband to “go eat a sandwich” when I’ve gotten particularly surly and started sprouting snakes from my head. Sandwich in, snakes gone–at least until another two hours has passed.

All of which is why I should have no problem with Joey Chestnut and his friends from Major League Eating. Yes, there is such an organization, with a mission, I might add. According to their website (Can you believe it? They have a website!), “Major League Eating is the world body that oversees all professional eating contests.”

Okay, I’ll admit my first thought was, “Seriously? You can get paid to eat? Sign me up!” But when I realized that in order to win one of these contests, I’d have to compete with the likes of Joey Chestnut (is that a mob name, or what?), who downed 61 hot dogs in ten minutes at the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest to claim his prize, well, even I can’t compete with that.

But apparently, lots of other people can, and do. Major League Eating sponsors tons of contests, including the World Slugburger Eating Championship, coming up on July 12th, a Hooters wing-eating championship on July 22nd, and a fish taco eating championship taking place on August 8th, during which our man, Joey will attempt to break his own world record of 23 fish tacos in five minutes.

To their credit(?), Major League Eating does maintain “safety” standards, noting that “speed eating is only suitable for those 18 years of age or older and only in a controlled environment with appropriate rules and with an emergency medical technician present. ” Although I’m not sure how much an EMT is going to help anyone whose stomach ruptures from scarfing down 61 hot dogs or 23 fish tacos.

Is it any wonder that sometimes the rest of the world hates us? I kind of hate us when I see stuff like this.

Yet, lest anyone think Joey is just some goon stuffing his face for a living, he proved he’s a real guy with a soft side by proposing to his girlfriend, Neslie Ricasa, just before claiming yet another championship on July 4th.

Neslie said, “Yes!”, making Joey even happier with his double win.

Hot dogs will not be served at the wedding.

What’s your take on competitive eating? Click “comments” below and share!