Man Dies After Hot Dog Eating Contest in Tragic Reminder of the Sport's Danger

hot dogs on a table for a hot dog eating contest
A Fourth of July celebration ended tragically after 47-year-old Walter Eagle Tail died choking on a sausage while taking part in a hot dog eating contest in western South Dakota.

In recent years, extreme eating contests -- especially those involving hot dogs -- have become iconic American sports. After all, they honor one of our most popular foods and pay tribute to our two favorite pastimes: gluttony and the attempt to eat as quickly as possible.

This is a horrible tragedy and it's one I'm surprised doesn't happen more often.


Eating competitions may be a fixture in our culture these days, but they are not natural. Humans aren't supposed to be eating that much and that fast. They can, as this man's death proves, be extremely dangerous.

How much are participants really eating in these competitions? Consider this: During the nationally televised annual Nathan's hot dog eating contest in Coney Island, New York, this year's winner, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, gobbled down 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Good lord.

And this isn't even the first death from a competitive eating contest. A man in Romania choked on a sausage last year, a 14-year-old boy died during a bread eating competition, a California woman passed away after a water drinking contest, and a man in Florida died after participating in a cockroach eating challenge.

While you might not think of competitive eating as a risky sport, these deaths -- including the most recent this year -- are a stark reminder that indeed it is. So the next time your kids decide to see who can wolf down their dinner faster, you should tell them to slow down and actually chew their food. It's training that could save a life.

Have you ever participated in a competitive eating contest?

Image via Space Pirate Queen/Flickr

Read More >