Does the name Joey Chestnut ring a bell? How about Takeru Kobayashi? Maybe you’re even familiar with Matt Stonie, last year’s champ of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest and official unseater of Chestnut, who himself had unseated Kobayashi in 2007? While any number of us can rattle off the names of at least a handful of male hot-dog-eating champions, we wouldn’t have as easy a time with the women competitors. What gives? Is it bias of the press? Rampant sexism?
For the past five years, female competitive hot-dog-eaters have had their own competition, a move that was made in order to make the competition fairer. But since the change, women have said they now feel like second fiddle to male hot-dog-shovelers. Their contest comes an hour before the men’s, which makes them feel as if they are the preliminary to the main event. Miki Sudo, this year’s champion, explained her dismay to the New York Times:
“To be dismissed as an opening act,” Ms. Sudo said before the contest began, “is disappointing.”
Ms. Sudo’s hot-dog tally beat the fourth-place total in the men’s division, 38 hot dogs, and last year, her result would have placed her third overall, she said. Yet far more reporters and fans directed their attention toward the men’s competition than the women’s.
“It would be nice to be given equal coverage,” she said. “There are competitors that are just as dominant as the men.”
Joey Chestnut, comparatively, downed 70 hot dogs this year to snatch back the men’s title. But that doesn’t mean the women aren’t equally as impressive. Chestnut himself said that because hot-dog-eating “doesn’t seem ladylike,” women don’t get the appropriate credit. But like his female counterparts, he hopes that eventually the tide will change.
Here’s to a future of fair representation in competitive hot-dog-eating.