Imagine eating 73 hotdogs in 10 minutes. 10 minutes. It’s possible but when it comes to competitive eating there’s also a risk.
You may have seen him on the 4th of July at the annual Nathan’s Famous eating hot dog contest on Coney Island.
“Hopefully this year I can beat the record,” says Joey Chestnut, a competitive eater who holds multiple records.
He’s a pro. But he also knows that when it comes to shoving all that food into your mouth in a matter of minutes, dangers arise.
A 20-year-old college student died after a pancake eating contest last week.
“It’s a tragedy. When it comes to competitive eating, it’s like running a marathon, swimming. There’s always a risk when you’re pushing your bodies to these limits so there should always be somebody there a medical professional. Choking is definitely a hazard,” says Chestnut.
“It’s not a good practice but if you do do it, a medical professional should be standing by,” says Dr. David Orban, an emergency room physician at USF Health/ Tampa General Hospital. “We’ve not seen anyone personally from a contest coming in but we have seen people who have food stuck in esophagus.”
Orban says absolutely there’s a danger to competitive eating.
“I think there needs to be somebody who does CPR or who has ACLS training like paramedics,” says Orban.
We found just in the next few months here in the Bay area there are numerous eating contests happening.
“With Major League Eating, all of their contests have EMTs. They are aware choking is a hazard,” says Chestnut.
Chestnut says with the latest tragedy, he hopes those hosting or competing will be well aware of the risks involved.
“There’s things when it’s fun, there’s risks involved. This could be eye opening. Maybe it will prevent someone else from choking and someone can save a life. Hopefully, it will save lives in the long run,” says Chestnut.