This year marked ESPN’s 18th-straight broadcast of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, but that broadcast did not go as planned. The live feed of the men’s contest (the only one shown on ESPN this year; the women’s contest aired earlier on ESPN3) crashed three times inside the final four minutes of the event. The first crash happened during an interview with four minutes left in the men’s contest, with the broadcast first freezing, then going to a black screen, then showing a bunch of blurry images with no sound:
Eventually, after just over 30 seconds of that, ESPN switched to a DraftKings commercial:
The broadcast then returned inside the final three minutes, with Joey Chestnut pulling away, and returned mid-sentence from someone on the air:
Not long after that, though, the broadcast picture froze and when blurry, before ESPN again went to commercial:
After several commercials, they came back inside the final minute, again mid-sentence:
But they then hit issues again in the final 15 seconds, including a crash to a blue screen, and only caught still-frame video of Chestnut’s 76th and final hot dog:
Here’s how they came back from that, and finally managed to make a smooth transition to commercial ahead of the trophy presentation and interview with Chestnut:
That’s a remarkable run of technical difficulties, and it’s unclear what caused it. Feed crashes do happen, and they’re often about weather, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case here with all the sun that can be seen on the broadcast. At any rate, this was highly unfortunate timing, with three of these crashes coming inside the final minutes of the event.