2 Minutes With ... George Shea, CEO at Shea Communications

On Joey Chestnut and Nathan's Famous Fourth of July contest.

George Shea is chief executive officer of Shea Communications and co-founder of Major League Eating. He began publicizing and hosting the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog-Eating Contest in 1991, building it into a globally recognized event that generates billions of media impressions and airs live on ESPN.

In recent years, George has broadened his horizons beyond competitive eating, hosting NASCAR races, golf tournaments and corporate events. Currently, his agency publicizes real estate, cultural events, with a specialty in crisis management.

We spent two minutes with George to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

George, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Gardiner and Bangor, two small towns in Maine, before coming to New York City for college. I stayed in New York when I graduated and now live in Brooklyn with my family.

Your earliest sports memory.

My earliest sports memory was the collective pain my family endured being Patriots fans in the Steve Grogan era and thereafter. We would gather in the TV room for the games on Sunday and it was brutal. Younger Patriot fans cannot imagine how bleak it was. Steve Grogan, however, was still very cool, as was the old logo.

Your favorite sports team(s).

My favorite team would be the Brooklyn Nets. My wife loves the Knicks and we have spent many many hours enjoying Knicks basketball as well.

Your favorite athlete(s).

That's a toss up between Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo, two of the greatest champions of any sport in history. Both consistently demonstrate discipline, heroism and unwavering commitment to victory. They have inspired me.

Your favorite sports show or podcast.

My favorite sports show is the ESPN broadcast of the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July contest. It is extremely well produced and exciting. I also enjoy listening to Hochman & Crowder on 560 WQAM in Miami. They cover a wide range of sports topics and they are hilarious and very insightful.

Your favorite sports movie and/or video game.

Hoop Dreams is still my favorite sports movie. It dates back to 1994, when I saw it in theaters. I find it extremely moving. It highlights the enormous power of sports in our culture, but also the complicated role sports plays in education, specifically the way in which this system lets young athletes down.

A recent project you're proud of.

The publicity and buzz surrounding the Nathan's Famous contest was extremely powerful this year. We were able to connect to billions of consumers via traditional and social media, and the positive reception was beneficial to the brand and to the athletes participating.

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

I have been impressed by the success and positive impact of the TGR Foundation's Genesis Invitational and Hero World Challenge PGA Tour events. They are extremely well run, they produce remarkable benefits for youth through education, and they are very entertaining for fans of golf. They are led by a host of talented people, including Mike Antolini, and the results are worthy of praise.

What sports can do that nothing else can.

Sports can provide a focus for young people, positively channeling their energy and providing an identity they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. The confidence that comes from engagement in sports can create a foundation on which people can build their lives.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the sports world.

If I were not in sports and sports-related promotion, and if I had the luxury to choose anything, I would want to pursue martial arts, specifically Kung Fu (wushu/quanfa), learning discipline, control and mindfulness, and expressing this through combat and physical mastery. As it is, I am getting older and have bad knees, so I might have to focus on Tai Chi.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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