Sean Pendergast

Joey Chestnut Goes for Nathan's Hot Dog Eating World Record

What is more American than gambling and gluttony?
What is more American than gambling and gluttony? Photo by flickr/dinnercraft
Rarely, if ever, do I talk about myself in this space, and I'm not sure if I've ever bragged here (although I am guilty of bragging in many, many other places), but here goes — I have one point on the professional eating circuit. It's true! Back in 2007, I finished tenth (out of ten) in the first and only Kolache Factory World Kolache Eating Championships at Minute Maid Park.

Truth be told, I was a last-minute substitute for an actual professional eater who had to cancel at the last minute, so the good people at the Kolache Factory, knowing my public affinity for their product, asked me to participate. In short, my performance was pathetic. I ate seven total. The winner, Joey Chestnut, ate 56. I was an embarrassment to my family and my radio station.

Still, the record books will show that I scored one point in my "eating career." So, by the loosest possible definition, I WAS a professional eater, like the Moonlight Graham of professional eating.

So imagine my thrill when I was invited, thanks in large part to the pull in the eating community of my good friend Ken Hoffman of CultureMap, to judge this year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island in New York on our nation's birthday! It's an American tradition like no other — the perfect combination of gluttony and competition.

I honestly have no clue what the judging will entail or which eater I will be responsible for lording over, but to say I am through-the-roof excited would be an understatement. I feel like I've been put on Earth to do like a half dozen things, and this is one of them. And make no mistake, this is a HUGE edition of the annual frankfurter extravaganza!

After having his eight-year run as champion broken in 2015 by Matt Stonie, Chestnut reclaimed his title last summer with a record 70 hot dogs eaten...WATCH!

Clearly, Vegas sees Stonie's win in 2015 as a one-year blip on the radar of Chestnut's greatness, as Chestnut has been installed as a gigantic favorite (and yes, you can gamble on this event, which is simultaneously one of the greatest things about our country and one of the biggest reasons the terrorists hate us):

JOEY CHESTNUT WINS.............. -550

Also, the experts are expecting the record to be broken this year by whoever wins this thing...


Assuming I survive the storm of soggy buns, I'll be back Wednesday with a full report on my judging experience.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast