Competitive eating doesnt cut mustard

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

We all do something we wind up regretting later. Hitler invaded Russia. Jimmy Carter admitted to being attacked by a &8220;killer rabbit&8221;. Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in for the eighth inning.

My friends, I now have that moment.

Last Tuesday, I woke up and watched the Nathan&8217;s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

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As Takeru Kobayashi swallowed down his final hot dog, giving him 53 3/4 on the day, I thought to myself, &8220;Hey, if a skinny guy like that can put down that many, I should be able to do at least 20 or so.&8221;

When the rain washed out last week&8217;s July 4 festivities, I got my opportunity.

With everything moved to Saturday &8212; my off day &8212; I realized it was time to show what I could do.

I showed up at the bluff early to survey my competition, believing them all to be incapable of topping me. I even made the guarantee to my wife and coworkers that I would eat 25 hot dogs in the five minutes allotted by the Double Dog Dare Hot Dog Eating Contest.

I was so cocky heading in, I even defiantly corrected them on the pronunciation of my name as I walked to the table.

As I sat down to begin competition, I watched as everyone around me compacted their hot dogs, and laughed at the thought that it would give them an edge. I even considered turning down water for the occasion just to show my superiority to the other eaters.

Once I scarfed down my first hot dog far more quickly than any of the other five competitors, things pretty much went downhill.

The pros like Kobayashi don&8217;t chew their food, for the most part. They simply swallow it. Those attempts were utter failure on my part, costing me at least 20-30 seconds per hot dog.

My dream for some time was to be the man to top Kobayashi, and while I may not have been able to do it in five minutes, I figured I could at least get on a better pace.

You may be curious as to how many hot dogs I managed to eat in those five minutes. That&8217;s a good question, but is it really that important? I mean, in the end, who really cares how many hot dogs a sports editor can eat, right?

Fine, I ate six.

It was a dismal showing. Congratulations are in order, however, to 15-year-old Alan Grantham, who was seated directly to my left during the competition. He ate 10 hot dogs to edge out the rest of the field. His hot dog-eating prowess is to be commended.

As for the other three who ate more dogs than I, just remember, I&8217;m coming back for all of you next year, and I&8217;m coming for Kobayashi, too.

In other news, I&8217;ve really enjoyed getting out and meeting so many of you over the last two weeks. From checking out the Moo Sul Kwan Martial Arts School with Ken Rogers to getting a free drink from Lyvette Banks at the T.M. Jennings Senior League finals Tuesday night, everyone has been gracious and easy to talk to so far.

Have a good week.

Tim Cottrell is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached by phone at 601-445-3632 or by e-mail at