07/01/2011 02:38 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2011

The State Of Competitive Eating

Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is pretty much the Olympics of the competitive eating circuit. But there's much more to the life of a competitive eater than scarfing down hot dogs. This season, the media has been especially hungry to cover the world of this growing-but-not-quite mainstream activity. What we've learned:

Competitive eating can be lucrative for certain competitors and their sponsors. Major League Eating organizes 90 events per year for corporate sponsors ranging from the Acme World Oyster Eating Championship to the World Cheesesteak Eating Championship. Sponsors of eating events have included 7-Eleven, Roy Rogers, Krystal and Harrah’s. Pepto-Bismol paid top competitive eater Joey Chestnut $100,000 to endorse its product; the company saw double-digit increases in sales that month. However, for most, competitive eating is not lucrative. The number three eater in the world, Timothy "Eater X" Janus, has never made more than $35,000 yearly from his eating prowess.

Competitive eating can hurt your body. Kobayashi has previously suffered from an arthritic jaw and his injury is only one of many that have occurred in the history of competitive eating. There have been strokes post-moon pie eating, deaths due to choking and even an instance of water intoxication (also resulting in death). The AMA is definitely against it.

Competitive eating has its detractors. There has been discussion about the notion of eating so much food when many people in the world are starving. Is it excessive? Like watching a train wreck? Gluttonous? Unapologetic shitheadery? Some certainly think so.

Competitive eating is still figuring out what to do with the whole male versus female thing. This year, the hot dog contest is separating men and women for the first time. But, Major League Eating's rankings do not separate genders.

Competitive eating makes interesting movie fodder. See here and here.

Other competitive eating tidbits of note: