Major League Eating

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Major League Eating
Major League Eating (logo).png
Category Competitive eating
Jurisdiction Global
Headquarters New York City, New York
President Richard Shea
Official website

Major League Eating (MLE) is an organization that sanctions professional competitive eating events and television specials. The stated mission of Major League Eating is to maintain a safe environment for all events, to create a dynamic and enjoyable fan experience, and to help sponsors develop, publicize and execute eating events in a wide variety of food disciplines.[1] The league airs its annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest on ESPN.

George and Richard Shea (brothers) took over Nathan's publicity in the mid-1990s and were able to increase the exposure and attendance of Nathan's hot dog eating contest. Seeing a business opportunity, the brothers founded International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) in 1997 to oversee/regulate/organize events/TV deals. IFOCE later changed its name to "Major League Eating" (MLE). The brothers still represent Nathan's.

Renowned eaters Takeru Kobayashi, Joey Chestnut, Sonya Thomas, and Patrick Bertoletti have all been Major League Eaters, however issues regarding exclusive contract requirements as well as treatment of the eaters have plagued the league in recent years, with Kobayashi leaving the league in an acrimonious dispute. In 2013, the second-ranked Patrick Bertoletti also left MLE.

Major League Eating coordinates events in the United States, Canada.

Takeru Kobayashi contract dispute[edit]

On June 28, 2010, Takeru Kobayashi announced he would not compete in the Nathan's Fourth of July hot dog eating competition due to a labor impasse with Major League Eating over the stipulation that he could only compete in contests sanctioned by MLE. Kobayashi, who won the Nathan's title a then-unprecedented six straight times from 2001 to 2007, watched the contest from the crowd. When he attempted to run onto the stage after the contest, he was restrained, taken into custody by police and later charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and trespassing.[2] On August 5, 2010 all charges against Kobayashi were dismissed by a judge in Brooklyn, NY.

On July 4, 2011, in an effort to get publicity, the owner of the Rooftop Garden Bar and Penthouse Lounge in New York City arranged a hot dog eating event featuring Takeru Kobayashi, which took place at the same time as the annual Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. (The official count of Nathan's hot dogs eaten by Kobayashi was 69, a new world record, compared to Joey Chestnut, who consumed 62.) Chestnut, the former world record holder, told reporters, "I think even Kobayashi would agree that the record still stands at 68. And if he wants to compete with me on the Fourth of July, he knows what he has to do - sign a simple contract and man up."

On June 30th 2012 Kobayashi revealed the MLE contract he was required to sign in order to compete in Nathan's Fourth of July hot dog eating competition. The year-long contract limited him to $40,000 and took away any rights to endorse or engage in anything outside of what MLE mandated.

After Kobayashi left Nathan's, the hot dog contest lost sponsorship from Old Navy, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Pepto-Bismol, and was down year-to-year. With an average 0.7 HH U.S. rating, it was off just a tenth of a point from 2012, when it aired on ESPN. ESPN averaged 1.949 million viewers for 2011's Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, but went down 41% to 1.15 million viewers in 2013.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "About". IFOCE. 
  2. ^ Rosen, Daniel. "Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest mayhem as sidelined ex-champ Takeru Kobayashi goes nuts". Retrieved 4 July 2014.