As a tip of the cap to our nation’s birthday, as well as to the industrious spirit that made our country great, I present one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen on television. Not “greatest shows” or “greatest competitions.” Greatest things.
This is the 2003 showdown between Takeru Kobayashi and a Kodiak brown bear:
I enjoy several distinct aspects of this contest, aside from the inherent enjoyment of seeing a human do battle with a massive animal in an eating contest. Among them:
1. The commentary team treats the event with unironic seriousness.
2. The bear competes under a giant American flag in a show of inexplicable patriotism.
3. Michael Buffer was paid five figures (at least) to participate in this.
4. There’s a post-match interview with Steve Martin(!), bear handler.
Many elements of this spectacle were quintessentially American, making it all the more appropriate on this Fourth of July. First and foremost among them was the idea that, in a pre-Joey Chestnut world, we had to resort to using a bear to defeat the then-untouchable Kobayashi.*
Happy Birthday, America!