30 for 30: The Good, The Bad, The Hungry

Eating hot dogs is one of America’s favorite holiday traditions. According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, 150 million franks are consumed during the Fourth of July. So why not release a documentary about the most intense hot dog contest in America, during Fourth of July week? ESPN’s 30 for 30 takes on Major League Eating and the intense rivalry between Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi. 

30 for 30 is a series known to dive deep into historical and controversial sports events. 30 for 30 does that once again with this episode. Who would have thought that hot dog eating could bring so much emotion? The Good, The Bad, The Hungry is an in-depth look at Major League Eating, more specifically, the rivalry between America’s Joey Chestnut and Japan’s Takeru Kobayashi that stemmed from Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest. The contest takes place during the Fourth of July and pits men against each other and hot dogs. Each contestant competes with the other to see who can eat the most hot dogs in a given time.

“…an in-depth look at Major League Eating, more specifically, the rivalry between America’s Joey Chestnut and Japan’s Takeru Kobayashi…”

Six years in a row the champ was Japan’s very own Takeru Kobayashi. Then came along Joey Chestnut, an American, who would challenge Kobayashi and win in 2007. This was a controversial win, as the documentary would show. Kobayashi had announced that he had a jaw injury just before the contest. This began a rivalry for a number of years. 

Surprisingly (and not), ESPN and director, Nicole Lucas Haimes, captured just about every emotion imaginable with this episode. The episode showcases the best and worst of the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest and its competitors. The documentary follows Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi as they train for eating competitions. The two have insane training sessions which include swallowing air, pressing of the intestines, and of course, eating hot dogs. It is as shocking as it is laughable to see that this kind of training exists. 

“The episode showcases the best and worst of the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest and its competitors.”

As mentioned before, there is just about every emotion in this documentary. There is a number of times where Kobayashi breaks down sobbing in front of the camera. Kobayashi explains how his late mother was his motivation, and when she had passed, he “lost [his] purpose in life.” It is quite heartbreaking. But the tears do not stop there. Kobayashi also explains that because of the contest, he faced backlash from American fans. At one point, he recounts a time when he felt that he was no longer welcomed in America. 

This episode is another really good documentary for ESPN Films and their 30 for 30 series. It is almost comical to think that it brings out so much emotion in a place one wouldn’t think emotion would exist, but to the contrary, it’s a display of genius from Haimes. Haimes captures the very real moments of competition and the drama that comes with it. It is a definite must-see during the holiday week. 

Now go enjoy those hot dogs, in three…two…one, go!

30 for 30: The Good, The Bad, The Hungry (2019).Directed by Nicole Lucas Haimes. Starring Joey Chestnut, Takeru Kobayashi, George Shea. 

9 out of 10 

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