When did things start to go wrong in this country? Derb might answer, “Day one.” But for me, it was the dark moment a few years ago when we lost our dominance in hot dog eating. Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi’s unbelievable feats of frankfurter consumption blew the USA out of the water, and it happened on the Fourth of July, for pity’s sake, at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York.
But now a challenger will rise. Joey Chestnut, a 22-year-old student from San Jose State, got 50 dogs in 12 minutes at his qualifier yesterday, showing that he can ride with Kobayashi, whose world record is 53 1/2. Chestnut has a brother in the National Guard serving in Iraq, and he hopes on Independence Day this year to bring the title back home. Godspeed.