Eaters Hungry, Circuit Full

This year’s Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest qualifying circuit has drawn exceptional interest. Veterans and newcomers alike were quick to register and each contest is now full. What’s more, dozens of hopefuls are currently waiting on standby lists that are maintained for each event.

The 2006 circuit will begin earlier than in past years, with the first hot dog slated for consumption just prior to the Panthers hockey game on April 15 in Sunrise, Florida. That contest actually took over a week to fill up, longer than others, which booked within hours.

Feverish registration is nothing new, but qualifying spots have become increasingly difficult to secure in recent years, and there used to be certain events with room for last minute surprises.

“I remember being thunderstruck by the appearance of Kevin Lipsitz who showed up minutes before the L.A. qualifier in ’03,” said west coast eating pundit Robert Chandler. “Not because he was wearing an umbrella hat on Pico Boulevard, but because he hadn’t told a soul he was flying out to compete.”

Lipsitz failed to win that day, but his sneak attack is evidence of the nonchalance gurgitators exercised just a few short years ago.

“There was always speculation and rumor about who was competing and where,” said IFOCE Commissioner Hungry Charles Hardy, who was active at the time of Lipsitz’s memorable L.A. loss. "Back in the day you could play with other eaters. Screw with their heads. Lie. Mask the truth. Make ‘em crazy.”