Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Warming up for July 4th

As Independence Day approaches, no doubt the thoughts of most readers turn to one subject: the Nathan's Famous July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island. Today one contender earning attention is Juliet Lee, who ate 26 dogs and buns in 12 minutes at a qualifier in Virginia:

Juliet Lee, a 107-pound salon manager from Maryland, demolished the competition in the 5th Annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest by downing 26 franks and buns in 12 minutes.

The contest at the MacArthur Center was a qualifying event for Nathan's international competition, which ESPN will televise live from Coney Island, N.Y., on July 4.

Lee, 41, was the only woman in Saturday's field of 13. Her 26-dog meal was substantially more than the men flanking her and weighing in at 360 and 359 pounds could manage.

Now if you're a fan of competitive eating, this whets your appetite. But you know that impressive as this is, Ms. Lee won't even rate an asterisk in the competition with a total like this. That's because the record -- set by Takeru Kobayashi last year -- is 53.75 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. Kobayashi has won 6 straight titles, and the highlight of this year's event will be his rematch against Joey Chestnut, who ate 52 in last year's contest.

Are you underwhelmed? Afraid to invest your hopes in Chestnut after he couldn't live up to the hype last year? Don't be. Chestnut recently broke Kobayashi's record -- by eating a stunning 59.5 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. If he's in that kind of zone on July 4, it's hard to see how Kobayashi can match him.

Who doesn't love competition among world-class athletes?

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