GQ Magazine competitive eating article available online

update Nov 1 has a quote that did not appear in the article

update Oct 31 Some observations and links about the article follow:

  • Ronson asserts that the 1916 origin story for Nathan’s hot dog eating contest is “(almost certainly) untrue”, which Mortimer Matz, Nathan’s promoter of the 1970s and 80s confirmed in a 2010 NY Times interview. The claim that the first contest took place on July 4, 1972 is incorrect; a contest was held on Memorial Day weekend of that year and a competition took place in 1967 to honor the centennial of the hot dog.
  • 2009 is listed as the year of Takeru Kobayashi’s final IFOCE sanctioned contest. He competed against Joey Chestnut in a contest in Singapore in May 2010.
  • Emcee Dave Keating says that the cupcakes used in the shortened cupcake contest were lighter than those used in 2011, which explains why 7th place finishers Maria “Edible” and Michelle “Cardboard Shell” Lesco ate more in 6 minutes (48) than the previous year’s winner Tim Janus ate in 8 minutes (42). (Video of the contest).

If you need something to read due to Hurricane Sandy related disruptions, Jon Ronson’s article about competitive eating for the November 2012 issue of GQ is now available online. The article includes mini profiles of Joey Chestnut, Pat Bertoletti, Matt Stonie, Bob Shoudt and Maria “Edible” and contains reports from the Nathan’s finals, TooJay’s corned beef sandwich eating contest, and a behind the scenes look at the shortened cupcake contest held at the Isle of Capri casino in Waterloo, Iowa where Bob Shoudt offered these thoughts on cheating:

“I’ve seen everything,” he says. “People throwing hot dogs under the table. People making the biggest messes you can imagine.”

My eyes widen. “So there’s such a mess under the table it’s impossible to determine what counts as an eaten thing?” I ask.

“Oh, there’s techniques,” says Bob. “People suddenly get happy feet.” He mimes an eater dropping an item of food and then covertly stamping it into the ground. I’m appalled. Cheating makes everything pointless. And then Bob confesses that—if need be—he will be one of those cheaters. When his wife is in the crowd, they use pre-arranged signals. “If the eaters are dropping stuff like crazy, she’ll give a meaningless cheer. I’ll understand. Suddenly the food gets very slippery for me.”

He gives me a look that says: Don’t judge me until you’ve walked in my shoes. Leave the Gandhi-like behavior to the fools who don’t mind losing to the cheaters.

Comments (6)


  1. Anonymous said

    October 29, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

    Bob doesn’t say, “Cheating makes everything pointless.” The author does.

  2. ojrifkin said (Registered July 27, 2005)

    October 29, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    I have added more of the preceding context to make that clearer.

  3. Anonymous said

    October 29, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

    so he just admitted mle numbers are padded

  4. Anonymous said

    October 29, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

    I never seen Bobs wife actually travel with him, just his son once. It was probably just all talk for publicity. I like how they refer to Kobi contests as to just being about PR rather than competition when PR is the only thing the Sheas/MLE actually care about.

  5. Anonymous said

    October 30, 2012 @ 10:57 am

    Enjoyed the article.

  6. Mega Munch said

    October 30, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

    Fantastic article! Any fan of the sport should take 15 or 20 minutes to give it a read. Best quote:

    “I’m more than just a competitive eater,” Joey told us. “I’m a smart guy. I could be an awesome park ranger.”

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