It was the hanging chad of competitive eating. In the final moments of the annual July 4 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, as Joey Chestnut was poised to shatter his own world record, confusion reigned: Had he eaten 74 or 64 hot dogs? Astute Takeout commenters noticed the discrepancy between the televised total—64—and Chestnut’s own declaration of 74. What was happening?
What happened, according to ESPN, was a miscount due to plain old human error: “After a somewhat lengthy review, official scorers determined Chestnut had indeed broken the world record with 74 hot dogs and buns consumed in 10 minutes. Apparently the counters had missed a couple of plates’ worth of hot dogs, putting his number 10 higher than initially reported.”
File that under: You had one job.
The miscount led to a true cliffhanger, as ESPN switched from the eating contest to a broadcast of a cornhole tournament without settling the matter of the hot-dog record. It was, to borrow some technical election jargon, a clusterfuck.
“We were embarrassed,” Major League Eating president Rich Shea told ESPN. “And while even NFL referees make mistakes at the highest level, we have to show an effort to change the old way. This isn’t your father’s hot dog eating contest. There’s a lot on the line.”
Indeed. Shea says the league is now considering some sort of electronic counting technology that would eliminate the possibility for human error in the high-stakes world of hot-dog-inhaling.
“I doubt we can put the microchip on the tongue or in the esophagus,” he said. “Some sort of monitoring associated with the plate weight would be more practical.”