Earlier this spring, two people tragically died while participating in amateur eating competitions, revealing how a seemingly innocuous form of bar entertainment can go terribly wrong. But the incidents pose the question: When these accidents strike, who’s liable? In this installment of Gut Check, Eater explores the risks associated with competitive eating — for both amateur and professional competitors and the businesses/organizations holding the events themselves.
The takeaway: While the waivers most places will make amateurs sign before a competition likely won’t hold up in court, the physical dangers of inhaling 15 hot dogs in three minutes means amateurs should still step aside. “Find another way to entertain your guests,” says editor Daniela Galarza, giving some free advice to restaurants and bars that hold contests. “This is not a way to draw people in... I think eating contests should be left to the professionals.”