Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest 2012: 15 Athletes Who Should Enter
The Fourth of July, which is hands-down the greatest holiday ever, is nearly upon us. And I don't want to hear it from you Christmas-lovers out there. I'm sorry to tell you, but your favorite holiday is overrated. You can have Christmas and its crowded shopping malls, tense family gatherings and feigning excitement for a re-gifted pair of mittens you're just going to donate to Goodwill in January.
I'll take the Fourth of July with its awesome parties, daytime drinking and fantastic fireworks over any holiday on the calendar. Frankly, it just isn't a holiday if there aren't chants of "USA" echoing in the distance, random explosions every few minutes and a DUI checkpoint at every single exit. Independence Day has all that and more.
Much more—like Nathan's annual hot dog eating contest, for example. This annual spectacle is pretty much the Super Bowl of competitive eating and we all know the best way to celebrate America's independence from Great Britain is by stuffing our faces with hot dogs. Although, that's pretty much how we celebrate everything in this country.
Not that Nathan's is hurting in the publicity department, but adding a few world class athletes into the mix would really supersize the whole event. Star power and monkeys dressed as humans are really the only thing this blessed event is missing.
I've put together a list of 15 athletes who, for various reasons, might be interested in entering.
15. Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimmer
We've all heard stories about the diet of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. As legend has it, Phelps consumes up to 12,000 calories a day while training. The New York Post published this piece back in 2008, which provided all the dirty details.
Although according to Phelps, the whole thing was a bunch of malarkey. In an interview in May 2012, Phelps dismissed the reports as "a myth" and insisted it would be "impossible" to consume that much food in a day.
Whatever though, I'm dismissing his dismissal. I think he was just embarrassed about eating jars of mayonnaise in the shower.
Competitive Advantage: He probably eats 100 hot dogs for breakfast, so this would be like a light afternoon snack.
14. Mario Balotelli, Manchester City
Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is known as a bit of a loose cannon. A reputation that is both awesome and well deserved. Balotelli's hijinks are the stuff of legends—like the time he set his house on fire after lighting fireworks in his bathroom and then was named Manchester's ambassador for fireworks safety.
That kind of unpredictability and excitement could really boost ratings for the hot dog eating contest this year. Forget Takeru Kobayashi, Balotelli would definitely steal the show. The contest is held on the Fourth of July, so even if he sucks at eating hotdogs, surely the fireworks show would make up for it.
Competitive Advantage: Crazy. Bringing the crazy is almost always a competitive advantage.
13. The Red Sox Bullpen
As if the Red Sox's epic August collapse in 2011 wasn't bad enough for fans to contend with! Then it was reported weeks later that the bullpen had been preparing for action by chowing down fried chicken, chugging brew and playing video games—talk about adding insult to injury.
Fans and the media didn't seem to appreciate the frat boy antics of the Red Sox hurlers, but spectators at the hot dog eating contest sure would! They've had plenty of practice to step right in and immediately contend for a title.
Which is good news because they don't look to be contending for a World Series at the moment.
Competitive Advantage: Chug! Chug! Chug! Frat boys can chant each other into doing anything.
12. Charles Barkley, Retired NBA
During his playing career in the NBA, the legendary Sir Charles Barkley famously stated, "I am not a role model." Meaning that parents should be in charge of parenting and he should be in charge of drinking, gambling and hanging out at strip clubs. Barkley is a straight shooter who plays by his own rules, nobody else's, and sometimes not even his own. [I stole that last part]
Recently Barkley became a spokesman for Weight Watchers and even donned a dress to show off his weight loss—why he had to do it in drag is anybody's guess. Basically the only rule for being a weight loss spokesman is not to get fat again—which is exactly why it's the only option for Sir Charles.
Barkley loves sticking it to the man and he doesn't get a chance to scratch that itch these days. Biting the hand that feeds him by entering a nationally televised hot dog competition would be the ultimate way to stick it to the man.
Competitive Advantage: Pure spite.
11. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Like the late, great Rodney Dangerfield, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco don't get no respect. He's the best quarterback in Ravens franchise history by far, but they aren't exactly tripping over themselves to get his new deal done.
Unfortunately for Joe Flacco, it seems his only fan is Joe Flacco. Perhaps if he finished first in that hot dog eating contest, he'll finally earn the respect of his teammates and the Ravens would be more inclined to re-sign him.
Competitive Advantage: A strong arm and a big mouth.
10. John Daly, PGA
Golfer John Daly has dropped a few LB's since the height of his girth, but something tells me he still likes to splurge in the calorie department every now and again. Daly just knows how to live life, have fun and kick back with a couple of cocktails.
The Fourth of July is the perfect day to indulge in a few cocktails and a couple dozen hot dogs. John Daly's flashy sense of style and 'anything goes' mentality would be a welcome addition to the annual affair. He'd really class things up.
Competitive Advantage: Drunk people can eat a shocking amount—I know this from experience.
9. Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals
Nobody will ever forget the sight of Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith at the 2009 Combine—certainly not if I have anything to do with it. Smith arrived at the Combine at a svelte 332 pounds, and this is what he looked like running the 40.
His 40 time was slow and he disappointed on the bench press too, so it was only natural that the Bengals would waste the No. 6 overall pick in the draft on him. Smith is injury-prone, slow, overweight and apparently not all that strong—but it looks like he can eat things.
Perhaps it's time for a career change? Entering the hot dog eating contest could be the first day of the rest of his life.
Competitive Advantage: Practice makes perfect and it looks like Smith has had plenty of practice.
8. Hope Solo, U.S. Women's Soccer
The U.S. women's national soccer team goalie Hope Solo is an intense competitor. She's been a part of two World Cup teams and will be making her second Olympic appearance at the London games in 2012.
We learned just how intense Solo was after she was booted from Dancing with the Stars in late 2011. After the announcement she was visibly upset and reportedly broke down into tears backstage and refused to do any interviews.
Apparently Solo never watched herself dance, otherwise the elimination wouldn't have come as such a shock. The only shock was that she lasted as long as she did. This hot dog eating contest could be her shot at redemption.
Competitive Advantage: A bad attitude and a sense of entitlement.
7. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Remember back when everyone liked Dwight Howard? The soon-to-be ex-Magic superstar went from being one of the most likable guys in the NBA to one of the most reviled in about a year. It's actually pretty impressive when you think about it.
Every time Howard opens his mouth these days, something really irritating comes out of it—entering the hot dog eating contest would mercifully reverse that process for a few glorious minutes. Plus, I don't think Howard will ever win a ring, so perhaps winning a hot dog eating contest will ease that eventual pain.
Competitive Advantage: Lies, deceit and willingness to throw a temper tantrum—hey, it works on Survivor.
6. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
The Jets sure have a way of making headlines for things that have nothing to do with football, don't they? At least when quarterback Mark Sanchez got busted chowing down on a hot dog on the sidelines back in 2009, the Jets were winning things.
Imagine if "hot dog-gate" (seriously, people called it that) happened at the end of the 2011 season! Thankfully it didn't and we were all able to put "hot dog gate" behind us years ago. Well, everyone except the Raiders put it behind them years ago—the Raiders were still muttering about it being disrespectful to them in September of 2011.
It would please the entire Raiders organization if Mark Sanchez entered the hot dog eating contest because he would learn a valuable lesson about the proper time and place to eat a hot dog. This is the only way to right that wrong. Your move, Jets.
Competitive Advantage: The Sanchize seems to like hot dogs, which is a good starting point.
5. Tim Tebow, New York Jets
Because decision-makers within the Jets organization always know how to make a bad situation worse, they decided to bring the Tim Tebow show to town over the offseason. Tebow is officially the backup, but you know he's going to be competing with Mark Sanchez every minute of every day.
Which is why he has to enter the hot dog eating contest if Sanchize does! Tebow is going to motivate Sanchez to become a better quarterback, a better hot dog eater and just a better person. Eventually it will get to the point where Mark Sanchez can't even go to the bathroom if Tim Tebow isn't in the room to upstage.
In case you couldn't tell—I'm really excited to see how this psychological experiment plays out for Gang Green. My heart says "bad," but my head says "really bad."
Competitive Advantage: All he does is win.
4. LeBron James, Miami Heat
LeBron James has finally silenced his critics by winning one of the eight championships he promised with the Heat. Now every time Skip Bayless wants to bag on him for not being able to close, he's got a big-ass ring to shove in Skip's haterade-spewing mouth hole.
But now that he has his championship, King James needs a new challenge. He was already an All-American football player in high school, so football is old news. Hot dog eating is the next step in this natural progression.
If LeBron wins this contest, those pesky haters who he hates hating on him would be silenced once and for all.
Competitive Advantage: I've heard he's the best athlete on the planet.
3. Tonya Harding, Retired Figure Skater
The figure skating thing didn't end up working out for Tonya Harding. Jeez, you mastermind just one violent attack on your competition two months before the Olympics and those sticklers at the U.S. Figure Skating Association just won't let you forget about it.
Since failing to take out Nancy Kerrigan and then failing to win an Olympic medal, Tonya Harding has been mostly just failing at life. She dabbled in boxing, got arrested for domestic violence, cultivated a substance abuse problem and starred in what I can only imagine was the nastiest homemade porn video of all time.
It doesn't even matter—win, lose or draw—entering a hot dog eating contest would basically be the highlight of Harding's entire decade.
Competitive Advantage: Rock bottom is always an advantage because there's nowhere to go but up.
2. Dennis Rodman, Retired NBA
Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman may have retired from the game, but not from being bad (shout-out to Shaq in that car commercial!). In case you haven't heard, Rodman is "broke," "extremely sick" and facing jail time for nearly a million dollars in unpaid child support. All that according to his attorney, who we can assume is waiting on a few checks from Rodman as well.
So it's safe to say that things aren't going well for Rodman. The situation actually sounds pretty dire and entering the hot dog eating contest could help him out in a number of ways. First of all, there's the free food—saving on groceries. Hey, every little bit helps when you're on a budget.
Also, there is probably some prize money attached for the winner—probably not enough to make a dent in that child support bill, but enough to fund one helluva a night in Atlantic City before he's sent to jail.
Competitive Advantage: It's probably been a while since he's had a hot meal. Oh! And he'd probably show up in something that would distract everyone.
1. The Detroit Lions
If you're thinking to yourself, "Jeez, it seems like Lions players get arrested a lot," it's because Lions players get arrested a lot. Perhaps that's not the case historically, but it's certainly been a pretty big issue for them during this particular offseason.
There have been four Lions who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law in recent months and each incident involved marijuana and/or alcohol. Entering the whole team in the hot dog eating contest is the best way to keep an eye on all of them on the Fourth of July and make sure nobody gets arrested. Or gets arrested again.
Competitive Advantage: The munchies.