Brooklyn Boro

Facts about Nathan’s Famous’ Hot Dog Eating Contest

July 2, 2018 By Forrest Singletary Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Joey Chestnut, left, and Matt Stonie compete in the Nathan's Famous Hotdog eating contest Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York. Chestnut ate 72 hotdogs in 10 minutes to claim his 10th win. AP Photo/Michael Noble Jr.
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July 4 is on Wednesday, which means an annual Coney Island tradition is nearly here. Every 4th, the best competitive eaters in the world come to Brooklyn for the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Want to know more about this American gorge-fest? Read on!

-The event is run by Major League Eating, which was previously known by its former name International Federation of Competitive Eating. They have sanctioned this event since 1997. 

-Only contestants under contract by the MLE are allowed to participate.

-Condiments are allowed, but are rarely used.

-Contestants allow the hot dogs to cool after grilling to prevent mouth burns.

-The length of the contest has varied throughout its history from 12 minutes, to three and a half minutes. Since 2008, the contest now lasts exactly 10 minutes. 

-In 1916, according to legend, the contest started when four immigrants held a hot dog eating competition at Nathan’s to settle an argument regarding who was the most patriotic.

-The competition has been held in Coney Island every year since except 1941, as a “protest to the war in Europe” and in 1971, to protest the “political unrest in the U.S.” 

-The competition was dominated by Japanese contestants in the late ’90s and early 2000s, in particular, Takeru Kobayashi. Kobayashi won six consecutive competitions from 2001-2006. 

-Kobayashi forever changed the game by eating 50 hot dogs, blowing the previous record (25.5) out of the water. 

-Kobayashi has not competed since 2009 because of his unwillingness to sign a contract with the MLE. He was arrested in 2010 when he jumped onto the stage after the contest in an attempt to disrupt the proceedings. 

-In 2011 the first women’s hot dog eating contest was held in Coney Island, being held every year since. This year, the ladies begin at 11 a.m. with the men going at 12:30.

-Joey Chestnut has won the last two contests, and 10 of the last 11, wolfing down 72 hot dogs in 2017.

Facts courtesy of Nathans Famous, New York Times, Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream By Jason Fagone, DeadspinEat This Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit, USA Today and Metro

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