Every year on July 4th they hold the Super Bowl of competitive eating-the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. The “sport” of competitive eating has become so big that the annual New York event is broadcast live on ESPN.
The all-time biggest name in competitive eating is Takeru Kobayashi of Japan. He is a six-time winner of the Nathan’s event. Kobayashi had held the all-time record by downing 63 Nathan’s hot dogs. Last year Kobayashi lost in heated battle to American competitive eater Joey Chestnut. Chestnut broke Kobayashi’s record by eating 66 hot dogs.
The world has been waiting breathlessly for the rematch at this year’s July 4th event. Unfortunately, there was a problem. Kobayashi didn’t qualify for the Nathan’s contest. Only last year’s winner is granted an automatic exemption. Kobayashi failed to win a regional hot dog eating competitition to qualify.
Panicking, the commissioner of MLE (Major League Eating) decided to award Kobayashi a spot in this year’s championship by awarding him a “sponsor’s exemption.” Sponsor exemptions are common in sports like golf and tennis. They had never been used before in competitive eating.
The commish defended his decision to grant the exemption by actually comparing Kobayashi to Tiger Woods. After all, he said, Tiger Woods doesn’t have to qualify for every golf tournament.