The 2011 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is three days away and current odds place Bay Area native Joey Chestnut as the heavy favorite to win his fifth straight mustard belt. Odds have been coming in from a variety of websites and you can even hit up some proposition bets on total hots dogs eaten.
The big question mark is whether Takeru Kobayashi will make an appearance, which would seemingly affect the odds. The general belief is that he won't even be at Coney Island on July 4th, but if he does show up some sports books are preparing for it. For example, 5dimes.com offers a different over/under on the winning score if Kobayashi competes and if he sits out. If he competes the over/under is at 70.5 hot dogs, while if he sits out it's at 68.5.
The belief is that Kobayashi could push Chestnut to new heights and there might be some truth to that. Since joining the competition in 2005, Chestnut had put up record-breaking numbers in his annual battles with Kobayashi, culminating in a record 68 hot dogs and buns (HDB) in 2009. However, 2010 saw Kobayashi on the sidelines because of a contract dispute with competitive eating's governing body, Major League Eating. Chestnut easily won but only consumed 54 HDBs in winning his fourth belt. A return of Kobayashi could drive Chestnut to greater heights once again.
For now, the heavy money will be on the man they call Jaws. Bodog currently has Chestnut at -400 to win against the field at +250. So basically, you have to bet $400 on Chestnut to win $100, but if you bet $100 on the field you can win $250. It's a big field filled with some talented eaters, but it seems to still be a sucker bet given Chestnut's dominance the last four years. Their over/under on total hot dogs is sitting at 60.5. last year was a down year for Chestnut in part because Kobayashi was not competing and in part because of the heat at Coney Island. They're expecting temperatures in the mid-80s on Monday so we'll see if that slows down Joey "Jaws" Chestnut.