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JaneraSolomon's avatar

Is "competitive eating" the ultimate symbol of what's wrong with the USA?

Asked by JaneraSolomon (1163points) January 27th, 2012

Joey Chestnut is becoming a household name and considered an “athlete” in the USA. His sport: Competitive eating. His record: 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.
In a country where diabetes and heart disease are rampant, is it wrong to promote this kind of excess?

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17 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have never heard of Joey Chestnut, and the only people who call competitive eating a “sport” or those involved “athletes” are people promoting such things. Most of us have a little more sense. It makes as much sense as calling Joan Rivers a symbol of what’s wrong because she’s had a lot of plastic surgeries and behaves like a buffoon on camera. Pointing to any extreme is…well…extreme. IMO.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Kobayashi was better until his jaws gave out.:) Get two Americans in a room and they’ll find something to compete over, but I don’t this is any reason for the problems with the American diet and lack of excercise.

Blackberry's avatar

Pssh! Not even close, but that’s one out of 274,284,767.

ragingloli's avatar

I find it funny that in a country that calls itself a “christian nation”, one of the seven deadly sins is a popular “sport”

JilltheTooth's avatar

@ragingloli : Which country is that?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JilltheTooth I think he’s referring to the US and gluttony, although I doubt I’d call it a popular sport.

zenvelo's avatar

@JaneraSolomon Who considers him an athlete?

@ragingloli The paradox of politics and religion: those of us that don’t call the US a ‘Christian Nation” don’t consider it a sport.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Gee, @Adirondackwannabe , the US in which I live does not “call itself a christian nation”, although I have heard a few refer to it as such. Also, very very few refer to competitive eating as a “sport”.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JilltheTooth Sorry, I forgot the symbol for sarcasm.

Coloma's avatar

I think it’s just symbolic of the cultures “extreme” need for more and more outrageous forms of “entertainment.”
People glom onto extremes because they are woefully bereft of creating their own satisfactions in life.
What the hell ever happened to just sitting on a blanket in a beautiful park and enjoying the REAL world?
Like anything, the shock value needs to keep being ramped up to feed an extreme need for stimulation, not unlike addictions.

MilkyWay's avatar

Lol! You think that’s competitive eating? Every village in the whole of bloody UK has some kinda eating festival. I kid you not, us Britons eat a lot. Studies show that obesity is becoming a major problem over here too.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think competitive eating is as old as country fairs – several thousand year old, at least.
It is not exclusive to the U. S., either, there are competitive eating contests all over the world, and have been since ancient times.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

No, it has nothing to do with it.

JaneraSolomon's avatar

Competitive eating at state fairs was typically ONE pie or ONE half watermelon and a race to see who could eat the most within a limited amount of time. But these open ended hot dog scarfing contests are downright scary in comparison.
For the record, 66 Nathan’s hot dogs contain:
20,394 calories
45,144mg of salt (The American Heart Association recommends that Americans limit sodium intake to no more than 2,400 milligrams per day)
1326.6 grams of Fat (2.92 pounds)
2310mg of cholesterol
and these figures don’t even include the buns!

Soupy's avatar

While you could certainly draw comparisons between contests like this and the over-consumption culture of the US, I don’t think these contests are the “ultimate symbol” of what’s wrong with America. I don’t think the contests are that popular, and from what I hear they’re usually much milder than this, with contestants racing to finish a single pie or similar.

That said, this shit is scary. Why would anyone do this? Why would anyone be impressed with someone doing this? People all over the world are dying of malnutrition, people in his own country are being pushed below the poverty line, and he spends his life trying to eat as much rubbish as possible. What a disgusting human being.

mattbrowne's avatar

Competitive eating is disgusting and ethically wrong. It does not stand for America as a whole.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Soupy Actually, these contests are very popular. Every 4th of July ESPN airs Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. In 2011 over 40,000 spectators attended the event, and an additional 1.949 million viewers watched it live on ESPN television. *according to wikipedia (I tried to link to their page but for some reason I can’t get it to work)

Look at the success of the show Man v. Food on the Travel Channel. The host of the show travels the states and visits restaurants that offer eating challenges and takes on the challenge himself. This season he has stopped doing the challenges and has locals do the challenge instead. There are restaurants all over the US that offer eating challenges and each restaurant that does this has a wall dedicated to those who have beat the challenge. There is a restaurant in the tiny town of Eagle River, Wisconsin (the town we like to vacation at each year) that offers a pancake challenge. I can’t remember exactly how many pancakes you need to eat, but I think it was about 15 or 20 pancakes in a certain amount of time. There is also an eating challenge at a restaurant in the largest town near us called the Big Ass Challenge. The contestant needs to eat 25 large breaded chicken tenders and an ice cream pie in under an hour. If you beat the challenge you get a tshirt and $50 gift card. You can find this kind of competitive eating just about anywhere.

That said, yes it is popular here in the states, but as others have mentioned we weren’t the first country to do this. It may be wrong but I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. These contests are just another way for restaurants to promote their business.

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