Competitive Eating

Thrillist believes competitive eating isn't just a sport; it's the sport, a hideous spectacle of caveman survival and grade-D meat product. Thanks to the International Federation of Competitive Eating, "gustatory athletes" now have their own circuit, just like the bowlers and wood axe throwers. Here's all you need to know about the IFOCE and the stark human drama it serves up

The Main Event: The IFOCE hosts many competitions, the next being the 90th annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, July 4th at Coney Island. Twenty of the world's top gluttons will ruin their digestive tracts competing for the Mustard Yellow International Belt. Admission is free, beer $6. If you've already made plans to spend Independence Day picking fights with foreigners, you can still catch the final qualifying round tomorrow at Shea Stadium

Thrillist's Favorite Eaters: Tekeru Kobayashi, Sonia "Black Widow" Thomas, and Eric "Badlands" Booker (pictured left) are ranked 1, 2 and 3, respectively. However, our man Booker, a 420lb 7 Train conductor, is the only one with his own rap album*. Thrillist also follows the efforts of 15th ranked Crazy Legs Conti, the day manager at the Penthouse Executive Club. Anyone who can run a club full of men desperate to get their wieners swallowed, then casually dead 50 of his own, is OK in our book

Record Holders: 2004's winner manhandled 53 1/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Conversely, William "The Refrigerator" Perry ate only 4 before crumpling into a heap of fat, saliva and tears. Other consumption records include 128oz of mayo and 17.7lbs of delicious cow brains

Rules of Competition: Whether you're talking butter, cabbage or orphans, winning is defined by whomever eats the most in a given amount of time. Regurgitation is grounds for automatic disqualification. Rules on re-eating vomit vary by state

If you're in your 20s or 30s and still haven't found a sport you excel at, competitive eating might be for you. To see if you've got what it takes, enter one of the numerous amateur competitions listed here. Haven't you ever wanted to be a sports hero?
*Hungry and Focused, featuring "The Sweet Science of Competitive Eating" -- the song Thrillist likes to begin any romantic, candle-lit dinner with.