This year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest marks its 19th consecutive year on ESPN.
Yet despite almost two decades of eaters devouring hot dogs on the network, ESPN continues to keep its telecast as fresh as the Nathan’s hot dogs these eaters consume. This year, SportsCenter anchor John Anderson will be the host/commentator of the contest from Coney Island, N.Y. It will be his first time calling the contest, and he’ll be alongside Rich Shea, president/founder of Major League Eating.
Anderson has been hosting shows and calling events since joining ESPN in June 1999 – including co-hosting New York Marathon coverage – but the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest might be his most unique assignment yet. He did co-star with competitive eating legend Takeru Kobayashi in a “This Is SportsCenter” spot (see above).
Anderson talked with Front Row about the contest.
What are your overall thoughts on calling the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?
I have been with the company for 23 years, and now it’s what is new and what can be next for me. I haven’t done the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. I’m always up for a new challenge.
You co-hosted the former ABC action-filled reality game show Wipeout for several years. Where does Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest rank on events you’ve covered?
I don’t know if there’s anything more unique than this on my resume. Wipeout was pretty unique, but those people didn’t know what they were getting into. There is also the New York Marathon, which is a different kind of punishment.
The competitive eating sport seems to take a unique athlete to do it because you really are consuming so many calories and really passing daily calorie intake with ease. Ridiculousness is in the eye of the beholder, that’s for sure! I’m looking forward to covering it.
How are you performing in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest if you were in it?
Terrible. I’m not an overeater; I pace my meals out. The closest to an eating competition for me was as a youngster on the bench during baseball. I’d see how many pieces of bubblegum I could fit in my mouth, blowing bubbles inside of another. It’s not an eating contest, but I had a lot of time on my hands as the kid digging dirt with my cleats.
Do you even like hot dogs? And if so, when is the best time to have one?
Yes! I eat them in the summer because it’s not a winter delicacy. As a youngster, I would put relish and ketchup on my hot dog, but not anymore. The only acceptable condiment is the Milwaukee Brewers’ “Secret Stadium Sauce.” So give me a hot dog at a Brewers game with that sauce on it, and I’ll be happy.