|Air Date||November 17, 1992|
|← The Virgin · The Airport →|
One of the most controversial Seinfeld episodes, “The Contest” centers around a pact of self-denial between Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine. The four place a bet (with Elaine contributing a higher stake) on who can go the longest without masturbating. In the show, however, they were able to convey the meaning without actually using the word "masturbation". Kramer's early exit from the bet has become a classic moment in Seinfeld history, with his simple "I'm out!" as he slams his cash on the counter. This episode also features Jane Leeves as Marla Penny, "The Virgin", Jerry's girlfriend at the time. Marla breaks up with Jerry when he tells her about the contest.
Other classic moments include Jerry's rant about the woman across the street, who struts around naked in her apartment, compromising his ability to remain "Master of His Domain" (and the same woman responsible for Kramer's early departure); Elaine's fascination with John F. Kennedy, Jr.;, which also causes her to be the second bettor to admit defeat; George's subtle introduction of the subject matter with the phrase, "My mother caught me"; and the "ease" with which the characters can sleep at night, depending on their current standing in the contest. At the end of this episode, Marla is seen sleeping with John F. Kennedy, Jr.; she says to him, dreamily, “Oh, John, that was wonderful.”
In a 2001 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, during an argument between Larry David and Jason Alexander, it is mentioned that David participated in a contest exactly like this one, after Jason comments that that sort of thing would never happen. On the second DVD of the Season 4 Seinfeld collection, Kenny Kramer states that Larry did participate in such a contest and complained to him at the time about how difficult it was. On the third week, according to Kenny Kramer, Larry was the victor.
Kramer expresses interest in getting in on the contest, to which Jerry replies, "You? You'll be out before we get the check!"
Notes About Nothing
- It is implied that Kramer, Jerry, and Elaine all "lose" the contest at some point during the episode, making George the winner, but we do not actually see him acknowledging his victory or collecting the prize money.
- George's victory is later confirmed in "The Puffy Shirt", although in "The Finale" five years later, George admits that he had cheated and that Jerry was the true master of his domain.