Behind the disgusting scenes at competitive eating contests

"A collection of hotdogs with mustard, ketchup, relish and onions." Joe Belanger for Shutterstock.

Jon Ronson's late-2012 GQ piece on competitive eating contests is worth revisiting, given yesterday's Coney Island July Fourth hot dog homage to gluttony, that holiest of American attributes.

I am totally repulsed by these things, to the point that I can barely read the article and won't look at photos or video. This was worth it: Ronson calls the eaters "meat-smeared squirrels."

"Joey thinks your happiness is the reason you rarely win," I tell Bob.

"Oh, he knows it," Bob says. "I was talking to him Tuesday night. He said, 'Why aren't you training for the cupcakes?' I said, 'Joey, I got to pick up my daughter, drive her to dance class, drive my other daughter to basketball…' " A faraway look crosses Bob's face. "But when I'm at the table…I can't let on in an interview how seriously I take it, because I'd probably be committed to a mental hospital."

"What do you mean?" I ask.

"Time slows down," he says. "You don't hear the announcer. You just have this…flow."

"When were you last in that altered state?" I ask.

"Probably when I did ninety-five hamburgers [sliders] in eight minutes," Bob says. "I was just totally locked down." He pauses. "I know it's viewed as horror, shock, a sideshow. But when people see us up there, it blows them away. Which is why the groupies are insane."

"Groupies?!" I say.

"I'm thoroughly happily married, so I'm on the sidelines," says Bob. "But I've seen stuff. Doors open."

"I'd imagine it would be a turnoff," I say.

"Me, too." Bob shrugs. "But no."

[HT: @andyorin]

Did you know that Joey Chestnut makes an estimated $200,000 annually from competitive eating? It is his only job. I learned that fact from following @darrenrovell.