A Cheating Scandal Rocks Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Contest

John Angelillo. Shutterstock Images.

There's not a man, woman, or child among us who didn't go into this past holiday week concerned about what would happen to the Sport of Kings that is Competitive Eating now that the most dominant athlete of our times, Joey Chestnut, was banned from its signature event:

But there was reason for hope the Nathan's Famous Contest would survive. Even thrive. There were other good athletes with huge appetites in their own right. Men who would finally get the chance to compete for the Yellow Belt itself. To achieve fame and glory. And not just runner-up status in the obscurity of Chestnut's mighty shadow. Men like Nick Wehry, for example:

Instead what we're getting is a major scandal. Allegations of cheating that strike at the saturated fat-laden heart of the sport itself:

Source - The competitive eating world has been rocked by hard-to-swallow claims that a contender in this year’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest cheated to beef up his score.

Nick Wehry — husband of women’s division champion Miki Sudo — is being accused of using sleight of hand trickery during the July Fourth contest in order to inflate his tally of eaten hot dogs and falsely place himself among the sport’s elite contenders, according to two sources closely involved in the competition.

“100% he cheated,” one source told The Post Tuesday. 

On the day of the competition, Wehry’s score was a respectable 46.75 hot dogs when they called it out at Coney Island, good enough for a fourth-place finish, according to footage and reports, including by The Post and ESPN. 

But that figure later jumped to 51.75 on the official Major League Eating (MLE) results website, allegedly giving him credit for five full wieners more than he was actually served during the competition, the sources said. …

Wehry has been accused of “stealing plates” from another competitor’s stack and putting them on his own place setting to raise his score above 50. …

One source suggested that Wehry asked for a recount after the initial judge’s tallying took place, concerned his true total wouldn’t cut the mustard in the highly competitive field of contenders.

“I can only assume he demanded a recount after stealing the plate,” the source claimed.

Before we proceed, let us all bow before the awesome power of the NY Post's pun game. From the headline "In Hot Water" to "hard-to-swallow" to "cut the mustard," the Paper of Record remains the Joey Chestnut of wordplay. Moving on …

Look, it's important to be fair to Wehry. It's important for him, obvious. And his wife, whose legitimacy as champion is not being called into question by anyone:


But it's also important for the nation. One of the core principles of the American Experiment - which 250 years into it, could still go either way - is Presumption of Innocence. Maybe in those countries where the eating contests are all about cheese or borscht or bowls of noodles, you can tear your competition down with anonymous accusations of cheating. But we do things differently in the good old U.S. of A. Here everybody gets to face their accuser. From the lowliest hood to the highest reaches of the stage at Coney Island, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and you had better bring the receipts, mister. Accusing a man of stealing plates in front of the entire world with hundreds of cameras on him is a bold claim, indeed. And we'll need to see your proof before anyone starts passing judgment.

More than anything, it's imperative that we get to the bottom of this. The integrity of Competitive Eating is at stake here. And of our way of life. I don't know how to express this any better, but something about America just feels off lately. Like all our systems are broken. Nothing seems to be running the way it should. The way we're accustomed to. We're lied to all day, every day, by every institution we should reasonable expect honesty from. And now, more than ever, we deserve to know the truth about how many collagen-cased tubes of meat by-products and maltodextrin some Mohawked crackpot forced down his gullet on our nation's birthday. 

If we're not capable of getting a full accounting of what happened on that stage, I'm not sure our country can be saved. Or deserves to be. 

Giphy Images.