Bettors Wager Over a Million Dollars on Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
On July 4th, the world saw an explosive hot dog eating contest that was one for the ages. Not only was a world record set, but there was also a highly controversial finish and a significant amount of betting action. By time it’s all said and done, the 2018 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest could end up being a landmark moment in the evolution of America’s most watched competitive eating competition.
Hot Betting Action
Heading into this competitive eating contest, Joey Chestnut was a huge favorite to win. Depending on which sportsbook you used, Chestnut was anywhere from a -500 to a -700 favorite. The next closest competitor was Carmen Cincotti who was listed anywhere from +450 to +600.
On the women’s side, it was either Miki Sudo to win or not to win. Most sportsbooks weren’t even taking action on any other female competitor. The odds for Sudo winning the competition were floating around -400 to -500 depending on the sportsbook.
In addition to picking the winners, there were two prop bets that saw some action: over/under number of hot dogs eaten by male winner and the female winner.
With upwards of two million people watching this contest on ESPN’s platform, it should come as no surprise that there was a significant amount of betting action.
According to one ESPN report, between one and two million dollars was wagered on this competition. However, all of this action was taken through offshore accounts because Nevada doesn’t take wagers on this contest. In fact, none of the states that just legalized sports betting takes wagers on this annual 4th of July tradition. But, that could all change by next year.
Offshore sportsbooks have released some early details on just how popular this contest was with their bettors. Pinnacle, one of the leading sites, stated that the action that they saw was comparable to an average baseball game. BetOnline.com shared with ESPN that the action they took was comparable to the amount that sports bettors wager on for the National Anthem of the Super Bowl.
Crying Over Spilt Ketchup and Mustard
For the first time since 2010, when Kobayashi tried to jump a rail and storm the stage, there was a major controversy at this contest. And, this controversy threatened the integrity of the entire competition and the sanctioning body. In fact, the President of Major League Eating (MLE), the organization that sanctions the event, publicly declared how embarrassing the entire ordeal was.
The controversy surrounded the counting and scoring of total hot dogs consumed by the male competitors. When the time expired, judges stated that Joey Chestnut only ate 64 hot dogs and buns. Unfortunately, after a few bizarre moments of head scratching and complaining, the judges realized that they missed two plates of completed hot dogs. After taking that into consideration, Chestnut was officially credited with consuming 74 hot dogs and setting a new world record. He broke his old one of 73 and has now won this competition for the 11th time in his legendary career.
Runner up Carmen Cincotti was said to have only consumed 45 hot dogs. But, after further examination, Cincotti actually finished with 64. Although that was below his declaration of consuming 70 hot dogs this year, an error of 19 dogs is just unheard of.
With the final tallies in, Chestnut easily cruised past all of his competitors and hit the Over of 70.5 total hot dogs. Bad luck for those bettors who took the Under and thought they won. Those of us who took the Over, were validated in our Hot Dog Contest knowledge.
Fortunately, there was no controversial finish in the women’s competition as Miki Sudo dominated and the rest of the women could only marvel at her success.
With such a controversial error in this year’s contest, there’s already talks of how to improve the scoring and judging to make sure this embarrassment never happens again. Speculations of technology to monitor the weight of a competitor’s plate could be the next step in official monitoring and scoring.
As for betting on this contest, I expect it to continue to grow in popularity. Right now, Chestnut does hurt the wagers a little bit because he’s so dominant. In fact, he’s considered the greatest competitive eater of all time and holds/held over 40 world records. His greatness does hinders action because most people don’t want to wager on his large betting lines.
With sports betting being legalized, and more states rolling out their sports betting platforms, it’s inevitable that this contest will see an uptick in wagers. Furthermore, I expect to see more prop bets in the future and not just Over/Under total hot dogs eaten. This will also help to draw in more action even if the great Joey Chestnut is in the competition.