Charles Hardy, Commissioner of Major League Eating, Dies
Charles Hardy, a former New York City Corrections Officer and long-time commissioner of Major League Eating, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 57.
Hardy, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, served as a Corrections Officer for 20-plus years before retiring in 2006. Hardy served on the elite Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT) at Rikers Island.
Hardy began eating competitively in 1998 and quickly rose in the rankings, winning top contests nationally and earning recognition in local, national and international media. He was known as the Godfather of Competitive Eating to those on the eating circuit and as “Hungry Charles Hardy” to fans. In 2004, at the height of his career, he was ranked number five in the world.
Hardy won the civil service qualifier for the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest six years running and competed at the Nathan’s July 4 contest in Coney Island eight times. He is the former American hot dog eating champion.
Hardy won the World Matzo Ball Eating Championship in 2000, consuming 15.5 giant matzo balls in five minutes and 25 seconds. He competed in Japan on two occasions, eating no less than 15 feet of sushi in one sitting.
Hardy won the Hibernation Cup in Alaska with record-breaking performances in shrimp (4.5 pounds in 12 minutes) and boiled cabbage (6.5 pounds in nine minutes). Hardy still holds multiple world records.
As commissioner of Major League Eating, formerly the International Federation of Competitive Eating, Hardy oversaw the world’s most important eating contests. He was commissioner and head judge during the heated battles between Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut on the Fourth of July.
Hardy appeared in a broad range of media, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and was featured in numerous documentaries on the sport, including Discovery Channel’s “Gutbusters.” He appeared alongside many celebrities and public figures, including New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“Charles was my brother in this sport and we came up together. He was a leader for all of us, which is why we call him the Godfather. He cared about all the eaters and was the glue that kept us together. He is a great friend, and I will miss him,” said Badlands Booker, a fellow competitive eater and world chugging champion.
“Hungry Charles Hardy is a competitive eating legend, and was instrumental in growing the sport to the popularity it has today. May he rest in eternal peace,” said Mike Devito, former commissioner of Major League Eating and a fellow competitive eater.
“Charles Hardy built an enduring legacy in competitive eating based on his incredible skill and outstanding character,” said George Shea, chairman of Major League Eating. “He will be missed by all who knew him, and we will never forget his powerful spirit.”
“Charlie played an outsized role in the development of our league and we will forever be grateful to have worked and laughed alongside him. Whether it was Anchorage, Los Angeles or Little Italy, he made every journey fun and meaningful," said Richard Shea, President of Major League Eating.
While Hardy always remained a New Yorker, after retirement he enjoyed spending time in the Dominican Republic.