59 is the number of hot dogs consumed in 10 min by the two finalists in the world's most famous competitive eating contest.
128 lb Takeru Kobayashi vs. 210 lb Joey Chestnut at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest held on July 4, 2008.
The contest went into "overtime," which was decided by a 5 hot dog eat-off.
Champ retains NYC hot-dog eating title in overtimeHow do they do it? A Science Daily video from two years ago speculated that Competitive Eaters May Have Ability to Suppress Satiety Hormones:
NEW YORK (AP) — Joey Chestnut achieved frankfurter immortality Friday, outdueling his celebrated Japanese rival in an epic hot-dog eating contest that pushed both of the gluttonous gladiators to the brink.
In a seesaw struggle for the ages, Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi each consumed an eye-popping 59 hot dogs in 10 minutes, forcing an unprecedented showdown that tested the very depths of their distended stomachs.
Under the glare of ESPN and facing a boisterous and sweaty crowd of thousands on Coney Island, Chestnut, the reigning champ, and Kobayashi, the six-time title holder, were forced to gobble down another five hot dogs in overtime.
"These competitive eaters are an interesting group of people who seem to have abilities that many people in the normal population don't have," David Metz, a gastroenterologist at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, tells DBIS.
Many competitive eaters train for an event by chugging gallons of water to help stretch the stomach. Others eat large quantities of low-calorie, high-fiber foods, like cabbage, that stay in the stomach longer before breaking down. Doctors believe expert eaters may have the ability to keep eating after they're full by suppressing the stomach signals to the brain that indicate it's satisfied.
Sounds like a horribly wretched thing to do to your body. But is it dangerous? In an article entitled Competitive Speed Eating: Truth and Consequences, Levine et al. (2007) concluded:
We speculate that professional speed eaters eventually may develop morbid obesity, profound gastroparesis, intractable nausea and vomiting, and even the need for a gastrectomy. Despite its growing popularity, competitive speed eating is a potentially self-destructive form of behavior.
Of course, there do appear to be notable exceptions...
For great coverage of the Levine et al. article in the American Journal of Roentgenology, read Radiology of Competitive Speed Eating at Not Totally Rad. From the abstract:
The purpose of our investigation was to assess the stomachs of a world-class speed-eating champion and of a control subject during a speed-eating test in our gastrointestinal fluoroscopy suite to determine how competitive speed eaters are able to eat so much so fast.The Wall Street Journal Health Blog also describes the paper (complete with gastrointestinal fluoroscopic images) and interviews radiologist Marc Levine. The study compared "an unnamed champion eater, ranked in the top 10 in the world, who was 29 years old, 5′10″ tall and weighed 165 pounds" to "just some guy who 'had a hearty appetite' (35 years old, 6′2″, 201 pounds)."
Just how much fat, cholesterol, sodium nitrite, MSG, etc. is in 4-5 pounds of hot dogs, you ask? A serving of 36 Nathan's Famous Beef Franks has 6120 calories, 540 g fat, 1260 mg cholesterol, and 16,920 mg sodium. Organic fat-free veggie dogs, anyone?
The regular guy went first, and stopped after seven dogs... Using fluoroscopy, an x-ray that gives a real-time view of what’s going on inside the body, the doctors saw what you’d expect: His stomach was indeed full of hot dogs and hadn’t stretched much from its original size.
Then they looked at the competitive eater. First, they noticed that his empty stomach showed virtually no peristalsis, the normal squeezing motion that helps the stomach break down food. He started eating hot dogs and his stomach got bigger and bigger. Ten minutes in, he’d eaten 36 dogs. He said he didn’t feel full, but the researchers told him they’d seen enough.
“His stomach now appeared as a massively distended, foodfilled sac occupying most of the upper abdomen, with little or no gastric peristalsis,” they wrote in their paper. Levine said the stomach was like no healthy stomach he’d seen in his 30-year career. He compared it to a “giant balloon that looks like it has no limit.” The eater’s previously flat belly swelled out as if he were pregnant.
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