Our long national nightmare is over. In the ever-changing world of television rights, ESPN has inked one of the premier organizations in the world to a five year extension. That's right: ESPN and Major League Eating will continue to be partners until 2017, and the famous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest will remain on the Worldwide Leader. THANK YOU, HIGHER POWERS!!!
To be fair, the contest actually does pretty good ratings for its timeslot, in the afternoon on the Fourth of July. Last year's contest drew 1.95 million live viewers, and nine million total. In addition to the live slot (this year, it'll be on Wednesday, July 4th at 3 PM), ESPN will air the contest at 4 PM and 10 PM on ESPN2, and will also stream it on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
In my opinion, the best part about the contest (which is a guilty, gluttonous pleasure) is MLE chairman George Shea, who dresses like a carnival barker and takes the contest very, very seriously. The contest this year will also feature "in-depth" analysis from Paul Page, Richard Shea, and Renee Herlocker. Rich Shea's insane over-the-top analysis has been featured here in the past for taking on a life of its own.
This is truly a great day for American sports. More hot dog eating is always a good thing. Now, if only this deal with ESPN would provide coverage of other MLE events...
[h/t: ESPN Media Zone]