A year after setting a new world record with 75 hot dogs and buns in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest bubble with no fans in attendance, Joey Chestnut was on a mission to top his feat back in front of a packed house at Coney Island.
The hot dog contest has become a staple of the July 4th festivities for many, as people tune in to watch Chestnut and others push the boundaries of intestinal fortitude. However, this year, the ability to enjoy 10 minutes of people shoveling hot dogs and water-soaked buns into their mouths was hampered by frequent broadcast issues for ESPN, as the feed cut out multiple times, forcing them to take two in-competition commercial breaks, and the finish of the competition, with Chestnut chasing history, wasn’t seen due to a frozen screen.
Things started as they often do, with over the top introductions that make you question a lot of things, including possibly the meaning of life.
Then things got going and Chestnut was flying out of the gates, housing 45 dogs in the first five minutes, putting him ahead of pace to break his record from last year. And then, ESPN’s feed started having issues. It appeared fixed once, then cut out again with under three minutes to go and we didn’t return to action until the final minute, when Chestnut was on the precipice of a new high mark. The drama and tension were mounting, the crowd went wild as he hit 74 to cash the Over at all the sportsbooks, and as he neared the new record, ESPN’s problems popped up again.
As the contest entered the final seconds, this is all anyone saw at home.
It was an unfortunate situation for ESPN that they clearly were trying everything they could to get right but just could not fix during the competition. So goes life covering live sports — and yes, hot dog eating is a sport. At least it happened in a year with fans rather than when everyone was watching from home, but for a moment that had such a tremendous build it made it all feel a bit flat.