No one is better at their job than George Shea, the man who founded Major League Eating and is best known for his flowery prose while introducing combatants at the annual hot dog eating championships. His style is unmatched and he wields the English language like a mythical god. Shea, of course, would say this better than I so let’s waste no time getting to his brilliance. Here is how he introduced the field today out at Coney Island. All told it may have been his finest performance to date, which is really saying something.
Behold one of the great writers of his — or any — generation.
1. For fame to the eye of heaven is the blood of Cain. The child of evil anointed at birth with the oils of hell. Who speaks in the language of the beast to herald the coming reign of darkness. Ach say jahslaleck dwaysek mahme ahkuhnun ida renhoonan beehdah! Or for those who speak the language of the living: I am the storm of night sweeping westward from the sun to cast the innocent into a pit of torment. My time is at hand. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you George Chiger, the Red Horse of Death!
2. There will be a day that is the end. The collapse of time and all that stood within it. A day of nothing. Or no one. Of nowhere. But that day is not today. Today we burn bright. Today we blind the Earth with our desire. And while it is still ours, we will bend history to witness this moment. To witness this man. The humble consequence of carbon. The fleeting spray of life turned diamond by the sun. Forever suspended in that instant, indifferent to the gods. For he does not envy their power. He will not plead their pardon. He will curse and spit and sneer and shout his name at the heavens. I AM THE SHINING ARC OF HUMANITY. YIELD TO MY DOMINION. And if we must compete for our place within existence, we submit as our champion the champion of the world. Of now and of always. Of the air. Of the fire. Of the sea. Of the land of the free. Ladies and gentlemen, the Nathan’s Famous champion of the world … Joey Chestnut!
3. In his last will and testament there is a codicil memorializing his appreciation for string cheese and all those who serve it. Ranked No. 16 in the world, my friends, 68 tacos. One hundred and eighty-one gyoza. From Seattle Washington … Juan Rodriguez!
4. He is a man so evil they put him in prison in hell. Hell prison! Hell prison. He was trapped in the Arctic with only a compass and his loyal dog Skitcher. And he survived by chewing the marrow of seal bones discarded by polar bears. And he strengthened his jaw and he sharpened his teeth and he deepened his determination until he was strong enough to launch an iceberg into the shipping lanes to secure his rescue. The dream that sustained him through nights of relentless cold was the dream to stand on this stage in Coney Island on the Fourth of July. Ladies and gentlemen, he is here. The jalapeño pepper-eating champion of the world. Ending a 10-year retirement from Chicago, Illinois, the great … Patrick Bertoletti!
5. He is the eighth archangel. Gideon, the exalted. Six-feet nine inches tall. Seven feet from tip of wing to tip of wing. Thirty-eight hot dogs and buns, the No. 7-ranked eater in the world, the kale-eating champion of the world, the sweet corn-eating champion of the world. From Zaria, Nigeria by way of Morrow, Georgia … Gideon Oji!
6. Immediately following a record-setting performance of 50 hard-boiled eggs in three minutes, four seconds he dropped to one knee, took Miki Sudo’s hand and asked her to marry him. She looked down at his face still covered in with egg white and said ‘yes.’ And now they are the premier power couple in all of competitive eating and their 11-month-old son is the undisputed mashed banana-eating champion of Tampa Bay, Florida. Coming to the stage now, ranked No. 4 with 44 hot dogs and buns, he is the great .. Nick Wehry!
7. He has greater muscle mass than two football players and a Canadian but the key to his success is speed. And when he eats, his hands are a blur. And within that blur is resolve. And within that resolve is greatness. From Bowling Green, Kentucky … Bartley Weaver!
8. He operates from a platform of power and he has zero respect for indecision. Impose your will on your environment or have someone else impose their will on you. It is just that simple. With 17 career victories against Joey Chestnut, 50 pork roll sandwiches, 83 slices of pizza, 235 Hostess Donettes and 51 Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and buns, my friends, the No. 2-ranked eater in the world … Geoffrey Esper!
9. He lost the confidence of his co-workers when he mixed together all the food on his plate and said ‘it’s all going to the same place.’ Sadly, they did not see his wisdom for today he is universally acknowledged as the most efficient eater on the circuit. From Sydney, Australia, ranked No. 1 in the Southern Hemisphere, which is half the planet by the way, please welcome … James Webb!
10. He is the vortex at the center of the vortex. A child of the centuries selected for greatness by the finger of power. Ladies and gentlemen, from Kirkland, Washington, 33 years of age, ranked No. 13 in the world … Steve Hammond!
11. He has traveled this nation from IHOP, Texas to Waffle House, Tennessee to Poke Bowl, Connecticut. And he has learned in every region the common denominator is American exceptionalism. At 32 years of age with 35 hot dogs and buns … Brett Healy!
12. He is a U.S. Army veteran who served our nation with a tour in Afghanistan before launching a career in professional wrestling. At the table his personal best is 29 and one-half hot dogs and buns and we honor his service. Hotel Alpha Romeo Tango Mike Alpha November … Hartman. Ronny Hartman!
13. He thought he was a natural for Cross-Fit but he had misunderstood the term burpee. And so he turned to competitive eating, a sport for which he enjoys the training. Thirty-right glazed doughnuts in eight minutes. Ladies and gentlemen, six-foot four inches tall, from Las Vegas, Nevada … Derrick Hendrickson!
14. He is a multi-discipled athlete as skilled in appetizers and entrees as he is sauces, moles, and chutneys. His personal best is 30 hot dogs and buns. Ranked No. 22 in the world from Vasalia, California … Pablo Martinez!
15. He hails from Leeds in England and he is here today to recognize the special relationship between our two nations by engaging in America’s foremost expression of patriotism. The No. 1-ranked eater in the UK, he is beard meets food … Adam Moran!
16. Six-feet four inches tall. From Vandalia, Ohio. He ate 27 hot dogs and buns in Washington, DC to qualify and he’s the No. 23-ranked eater in the world … Derrick Jacob!