The shimmering circus that is Times Square oozes neon fingers through the front glass of ESPN Zone, a restaurant in which people watch 14 large televisions while they dine -- and one small screen when they urinate. In a second-floor skybox overlooking this den of excess on an early July Saturday, a 44-year-old man-hulk from Hollywood, Florida, named Joe LaRue is settling down to a buffet plate heaped with goopy chocolate desserts. About 18 hours from now, he will ingest more hot dogs in 12 minutes than most people eat in a summer. Tonight, the brownie mound is a potential gut-plug... More >>>
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Joe LaRue's dedication to wolfing down hot dogs at home in Hollywood earned him a spot at the table (at right, with shades) among the aristocracy of eaters in Coney Island, where the force nonpareil is a Japanese man half LaRue's size, Takeru Kobayashi.