by Jeremy Martin - 07/03/2006
If bowlers and golfers can be considered 'athletes,' then these guys deserve their kudos as well. What other sport requires you to spend two hours on the toilet after a competition?
Thanks to Pinnacle Sportsbook, you can now have a stake in the Nathan's Famous July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest without ingesting the 15,000-plus calories it takes to be in the running for the top prize.
Always leading the industry with its diverse props menu, Pinnacle is offering more options than ever for the annual event, called the 'Super Bowl of competitive eating,' which will take place on Coney Island, New York, tomorrow. This year they are offering eater vs. eater match-ups (this is the only time you will ever read 'both must eat for action' in sports wagering). They also offer over/unders for the predicted top three competitors, props for number of dogs eaten and whether the record of 53.5 dogs will be broken, as well as individual eater wagering.
These types of wagers have become increasingly popular in the last several years. American Idol betting for the just-finished season broke all sorts of records and even eclipsed several major sporting events.
"These types of bets are offered as a direct result of customer requests, so they are very popular with bettors," said Simon Noble from Pinnacle. "For the spelling bee alone, we accepted as many wagers as a first round match in this year's French Open. With events like the hot dog contest and spelling bee gaining more media attention and coverage on major television networks, bettors want to place wagers for added excitement on them."
While players like Joe Montana, Derek Jeter and Lance Armstrong have dominated their respective sports en-route to a slew of championships, one man has conquered the competitive eating landscape. Takeru Kobayashi, from Japan, has won the Nathan's contest five straight years and he holds the world record for hot dogs and buns at 53.5 in 12 minutes. Kobayashi also holds the records in competitive eating for hamburgers, rice balls and even cow brains. Yum.
The man known as 'The Tsunami' could have some competition this year, however. Joey Chestnut is an up-and-comer on the eating scene and, in just one year in the sport, he has set records for asparagus, grilled cheese sandwiches, pork ribs and waffles. In his rookie season last year, he placed No. 3 in the Nathan's contest but he is primed to challenge Kobayashi this time around.
Diminutive Sonya Thomas - known as the 'Black Widow' in eating circles - is also a possible contender. The 105-pound, 37-year-old female competitor holds a slew of records and also placed third at last year's hot dog contest.
Kobayashi is listed at -321 to win it all while Chestnut is a solid No. 2 at +279. Thomas is listed third at long odds of +7541 (all odds subject to change).
"Action on the hot dog contest has been very steady so far," commented Noble. "Only two eaters are receiving any serious backing to win the contest (Kobayashi and Chestnut) with a lot of bettors finding value in Chestnut's chances to end Kobayashi's reign at Coney Island."
The beauty of wagering on events such as the hot dog contest is that the sportsbooks normally assign one oddsmaker to do the research and set the lines for these events. This is opposed to a handful of linesmakers that may calculate the odds for an average NFL game. So your wager basically pits you against this lone oddsmaker, and you have the luxury to do more extensive research as the bookie often has large menu of sports to set lines for.
The drawback, however, is that books often offer very low limits for wagers such as these. The limit at Pinnacle for this weekend's event is $250 per bet. Because of the nature that these lines are set, there is always the possibility to earn a few extra bucks at the bookie's expense.
"The lines are set by examining historic data on the contest and the eaters themselves," said Noble. "Much like with player props in different sports, linesmen use mathematical formulas to predict the performance by the competitors. Not as much time is spent on developing these lines as with game lines on major sports like football and basketball because early betting will usually dictate which way the market should move and we can simply adjust the lines accordingly.
"Events of this type may be easier to handicap in certain regards, but unlike sporting events there is only so much statistical research one can do to properly handicap an eating contest. There are also several variables to take into account, which could include the temperature, humidity and chance that an eater could be disqualified by regurgitating during competition."
So, if your man (or woman) blows chunks, you lose your bet. There will always be some unknown factors in sports betting that just can't be predicted. One sure bet for the Fourth of July, however, is that the Coney Island sewers will be clogged.