'The Good, the Bad, the Hungry' Argues for Competitive Eating as a Legitimate Sport

Matt Roush
Preview ESPN

My sympathies if you have difficulty swallowing the notion of competitive eating as a legitimate sport.

Nicole Lucas Haimes' entertaining 30 for 30 documentary The Good, the Bad, the Hungry makes a compellingly cringe-inducing argument, serving as a curtain-raiser to the Fourth of July spectacle of the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at New York's Coney Island. 

The maestro of this gastro-Olympics is PR huckster George Shea. "A lot of what I say isn't literally true in terms of words, but it's emotionally true," he says as he describes growing this local sideshow into an international event organized by his own Major League Eating.

Joey Chestnut on How His 'The Good, the Bad, the Hungry' Doc Opens Up the World of Competitive Eating

Joey Chestnut on How His 'The Good, the Bad, the Hungry' Doc Opens Up the World of Competitive Eating

The ESPN Films project explores his rivalry with Takeru Kobayashi, just in time for the Nathan's July 4th Hot Dog-Eating Contest.

He created celebs out of six-time champ Takeru Kobayashi, a slight youth from Japan, and his American nemesis Joey Chestnut while orchestrating a rivalry painting Kobayashi as an interloping villain.  

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These films tell real life stories, from social justice to musican-based tales.

Hungry also reveals how training for these chew-offs is taken seriously. But with fame comes pitfalls, including a contract dispute that led Kobayashi to strike out on his own. If any sport merits a "bite me" clause, it's this one.

The Good, the Bad, the HungryDocumentary Premiere, Tuesday, July 2, 8/7c, ESPN