|Competitive eaters v. Ringling Bros. elephants. Photos: Getty Images
As a prelude to the annual hot-dog eating contest at Coney Island, three professional eaters will go up against three Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey elephants on July 3 in Brooklyn, N.Y., an organizer confirmed to Slashfood.
"The animal kingdom in general is oppressed -- many would say -- by the dominance of the human species, and if they were to win this battle, in a way it could signal a rise of the animals," George Shea, chairman of Major League Eating, tells Slashfood. "Or at the very least, a confidence booster."
Get the details on this pachyderm pack down after the jump.
Three competitive eaters -- Juliet Lee of Germantown, Md., "Gravy" Brown of Chicago and Tim "Eater X" Janus -- are tentatively set to challenge three Ringling Bros. elephants to a hot-dog-bun eating contest at the circus tent in Coney Island one day before Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, Shea says.
The elephant competitors are female and older, Paulina Piekarski, a spokeswoman for Ringling Bros., tells Slashfood. Bunny, 42, Susie, 46 and Minnie, 48, will challenge the humans at 11 a.m. in a free show open to the public.
The competitors will have six minutes to down as many buns as possible. The Brooklyn Paper, which broke this man vs. beast story, reports an elephant can down a loaf of bread in 1.5 seconds. Piekarski says the trainer will likely stuff carrots into the buns to make them look more like hot dogs.
"Really the strategy of the eaters is going to come into play, and the intellect issue in terms of whether or not the elephants will understand they're in a contest: Will they begin as quickly as the eaters? Will they eat in a leisurely fashion?" Shea says. "It's really up in the air, because it would seem that if the elephants did eat quickly they would win."
They'll be competing for the glory and a trophy, Shea says.
"There's no cash prize; it's hard to organize a prize that would be both rewarding to an elephant and a human, unless it was some kind of a vegetable dish," Shea says. "A crudite, perhaps, would be appealing to both, but it just doesn't make a big impact on the public if you say there's a crudite."
Coney Island has a checkered past when it comes to the elephant kingdom. In 1903, throngs turned out to watch the electrocution of Topsy, a pachyderm who killed three men during her lifetime at Luna Park. Thomas Edison was among the spectators, filming the execution for posterity.
Shea balks at the mention of exploitation.
"On the contrary, I think that this is a nod to their stature," Shea says. "We are honoring them."
Will these elephants be eating for Topsy? As one staffer noted Friday, they do have long memories.
|Sure, why not.||210 (23.9%)|
|It's inhumane.||132 (15.1%)|
|What a dumb idea.||535 (61.0%)|