By Sarah Ventre
It’s official. Summer has arrived. Maybe we haven’t seen the solstice, but for us Arizonans, when the temperature breaks 100 degrees for the first time, it’s here. It’s time for swimming, fireworks, activities that don’t involve being outside of the realm of air conditioning or submerged in water, and of course, hot dogs.
See more of the action in our slide show Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Qualifying Round at Arizona Mills Mall
For better or worse, one of the most momentous American occasions on that most historic Summer Holiday, the Fourth of July, is the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. Every year at Coney Island, people gather from all over the world to see how many hot dogs they can eat in 12 minutes. Yummy.
Last Saturday, May 31, the food court of Arizona Mills Mall witnessed a qualifying contest for the Nathan’s event. The winner of this competition won a trip to the Brooklyn beach to compete against some of the most famous professional eaters in the world.
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Just before the big fellas dug in, the kids got a shot at it in a mini contest. (Seemed like the kids were a little more interested in the free lunch and loads of press exposure.) They did have fun though, and on the plus side, no one vomited. That would soon change.
When the little ones were done, a handful of men and one brave woman strutted in, decked out in their matching Nathan’s T-shirts and ready to scarf. Each contestant was ready with their own unique strategies. Competitors dipped their dogs in water, crystal light, barbeque sauce, and other concoctions designed to give them the edge.
The man who came in first won by a landslide, eating three times as many hot dogs, (and buns,) as anyone else. Tim “Gravy” Brown, , a marketing manager from Chicago in his late twenties, who flew out specifically for the event, ate 33 ½ hot dogs in ten minutes; a new personal record. It should be mentioned that he walked into the competition holding a shoddily made poster board sign asking if anyone could give him a lift to the airport after the competition was over. A nice middle-aged woman actually offered. The seemingly normal man who regularly decides to force his stomach to expand to unnatural sizes says that the competitions are, “…an interesting way to see the country.” He also works out five days a week, and that regiment includes 25 miles of running. After it was over, he was craving some lemonade and ice cream to counteract the salty meat he had just consumed.
Hopefully Tim got his ride to Sky Harbor. Look for him on TV at the gormandizing extravaganza next month. Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, he is single, ladies.