With the Fourth of July fast approaching, the Village Voice pays a visit to two of New York’s finest competitive eaters. It’s easy for writer Sarah DiGregorio to do, because Tim “Eater X” Janus and Crazy Legs Conti just happen to share an apartment.

Gregorio’s detailed profile of the two friends and competitors is built around a visit the three make to Whole Foods to take advantage of the store’s all-you-can-eat conveyor-belt sushi special, as well as a qualifying heat for the annual Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest. The article contains so many delightful nuggets, you won’t believe how happy you are reading a several-thousand-word-long piece on competitive eating:

Janus and Conti first met at a corned-beef-and-cabbage competition several years ago, and now they’re roommates.

There’s prize money in competitive eating, but very few eaters make enough to live on. Janus worked as a day trader until recently, when the vagaries of the market wore him down. He got a job as a waiter at Pizza Gruppo on Avenue B. Conti works several jobs, from window-washing and nude modeling to sperm donating.

[He] held on to win with 42 hot dogs and buns—and some victory bun coming out his nose.

The piece even acknowledges the discomfort many of us feel watching competitive eating contests, with their gluttony and food waste. But Eater X refutes these charges. He “points out that eaters often fast before and after contests, so they aren’t taking in many more calories over the long run than they would otherwise. Uneaten contest food is usually donated to homeless shelters. ‘And other sports are just as wasteful,’ Janus says. ‘NASCAR is wasteful of fuel; golf is wasteful of water and fertilizer.’”

Want to start your own competitive eating career? CHOW has some tips on how to eat more. Can’t get enough of Crazy Legs Conti? Grub Street has his weekly menu.

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