AARON SKUBBY, News Editor—Who is the most dominant athlete currently living in the state of California? It isn’t Lebron James, and it isn’t Serena Williams either. It’s Joey Chestnut.

On July 4, 2020, Joey Chestnut downed 75 hotdogs in the span of 10 minutes, beating his own record of 74. That is over 16 pounds of hotdogs. Next time you go to the gym, pick up a 15 pound dumbbell and imagine it sitting in your stomach.

The second place competitor managed a measly 42 in that span of time. Joey Chestnut’s only competitor is Joey Chestnut. In no other sport has any athlete shown such complete and total dominance.

And yes: I am calling competitive eating a “sport” and Joey Chestnut an “athlete.” Because both of those terms accurately describe the peak physical competition that is Major League Eating.

At this point, it would make sense to perform the biggest cliche of any argument, and give you some dictionary definition of a sport, but I don’t need to do that.

Competitive eating fulfills any reasonable definition. Definitions of the word “sport” always include two main principles: physical exertion, and a set of rules or a goal.

Only a fool could deny the intense physical and mental stress that a competitive eater faces. What do you get when you combine an iron jaw, a titanium stomach, and the sheer mental fortitude required to continue shoveling down hotdogs despite every fibre of your being telling you to stop? Greatness. A few times a year at a baseball game or a family cookout, I may eat one, maybe two hot dogs. Let’s be real here: hotdogs aren’t good. They are a pretty awful food.

I can understand if you appreciate a high quality grill-made hotdog. But that is not what gets consumed at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. The competitors eat cold, mass produced, boiled hot dogs, which they usually soak in water. It is frankly (pun intended) disgusting.

But, there is a hidden beauty to the world’s most revolting sport. Competitive Eating allows people of all shapes, sizes, and ages to compete at the highest level of a sport. Joey Chestnut is quite possibly one of the most average looking men of all time, yet he is a record holding In the top 50 ranked competitive eaters, there are people ranging anywhere from 21 to 76 years old, and there is no body standard. Competitive eating is simply normal people doing the impossible.

Competitive eating also has a very high degree of gender parity. While some competitions are divided by gender, the rankings make no distinction, and prize money is equal. In 2020, Miki Sudo’s record breaking performance of 49.5 hotdogs in 10 minutes would have made her the second place competitor in the men’s competition.

What does this mean for Denison? I don’t want to make any premature assumptions, but one day Denison’s top athletes may not practice in Mitchell – they’ll be in Curtis or Huffman dining hall.