Down the pike

Joey Chestnut devours one of 71 hot dogs en route to winning the 2019 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York.

Everyone can rest easy. Forget the bickering in Major League Baseball or the fear of a second virus wave that may still shelve the NBA and NHL seasons for good.

The annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York is still the way to gorge. I mean, “to go.”

The event, usually held on the Fourth of July at Coney’s Island, will now be broadcast live on the U.S. holiday from a private location without fans, it was announced earlier this week. But don’t expect it to be a watered down competition (well, except for the water used to soak the buns . . . never mind) as 2019 champions Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo are both expected to compete. Despite not being able to relish a possible victory in front of spectators, these athletes will not be doggin’ it by any means.

Following COVID-19 restrictions, masks and gloves will be worn by workers. Although if Chestnut can win it all while wearing a mask, they should just shut this whole thing down. No one will able to top that ever.

Ah, but we all must swallow some rule changes in the new normal that is competitive eating. There will only be five participants in each the men’s and women’s division as opposed to the traditional 15 to abide by social distancing.

Chestnut is the defending men’s champion after wolfing down 71 franks in 10 minutes year ago. Sudo earned the women’s title with 31 downed dogs.

COVID-19 has changed a lot of the entertainment and sports in our lives. However, it couldn’t stop two things: Wrestlemania and the Hot Dog Eating Contest.

This probably says something deeper about the state of America, but I’m too full of food puns to digest it.


ON THE NOWHERE ROAD TO IMMORTALITY: A man in Spain is the new Guinness World Record holder for consecutive hours on a stationary exercise bike.

Ben Miles pedalled in place for 297 straight hours — or 12.3 days — from June 5-17. He was given short breaks every five hours. The perfectly-named Miles said his aim was to raise awareness of environmental causes.

Miles kept up a solid speed of 19.3 km/h or 12 mph When he finished, Miles proposed to his girlfriend, Beatriz. She said yes.


SILVER GRAD: It’s been a real treat seeing how the Thunder Bay high schools are handling graduation ceremonies in a COVID world. With mass ceremonies not allowed, staff and students have been getting creative to mark the occasion. Some schools have the graduates visit for pictures and diplomas while others send staff to the 12th-graders’ houses so more family can join them in celebration.

Congrats to the Class of 2020!

Believe it or not, this spring marks the 25th anniversary of my high school graduation from Port Arthur Collegiate Institute. Class of ’95 — gosh, has it been that long?

We held our prom at Armani’s Night Club just to show you how ‘1990s’ it can get. The Macarena may or may not have been played that night.

Because of ’25’, I even dug up the old yearbook for one look-through. While cringe-reading through my grad quotes, I find not much has changed with me in terms of having a pandemic-like social life and watching too much sports.

To wit, under Reuben Villagracia you will find:

Pet peeve: Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bulls

Future ambition: Sports journalist

Memorable moment: 1994 San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl season

Advice to Grade 9s: Remember, an NBA game only takes 2 1/2 hours to watch.

I know most of my graduating class has gone on to do great things. Next week, we’ll look at other past Thunder Bay high school grads who made the transition from student-athlete to frontline health worker.

Reuben Villagracia is the sports editor at The Chronicle-Journal. Contact him at

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