This Independence Day, Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest is back in person following a strange, pandemic-safe year without a live audience.
The competition will take place this Sunday, July 4, as it has every year since the late 1960s. According to a Nathan’s-promoted legend, however, the contest has been happening since 1916, when four European immigrants held an impromptu hot dog eating contest to settle a patriotism-related argument. The women’s contest was only begun in 2011.
Last year, Joey Chestnut set a new world record, eating 75 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. “I’m happy we’re able to put on a contest,” he told The Post last year ahead of the big day. “There’s been years where I break a personal best on the Fourth of July, and I think it’s purely because the crowd pushed me. At the same time, I do practices home, alone a lot of the time. I should be able to perform well without the audience.”
“The Nathan’s Famous contest is the crown jewel of the Fourth of July and stands as a beacon of freedom for all those who believe in American exceptionalism,” said George Shea of Major League Eating in a press release. “Joey Chestnut is a national treasure. The rock on which he stands is not a rock — it is the United States of America.”
Now that the tradition is back to normal, here’s everything to know about watching the competitive dirty water dog-eating event in person or from home.
Where is it taking place and will there be a crowd?
For 2021, the venue for the contest will be Coney Island’s Maimonides Park. Formerly known as MCU Park, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones is located just a block down Surf Avenue from the iconic Nathan’s Famous storefront.
A portion of seating has been reserved for “non-vaccinated people to sit in sectioned pods.”
How can I watch this year’s contest?
Fans can register online for free tickets to the annual tradition. Doors are at 10 a.m. for those who get tickets.
For those watching from home, ESPN has exclusive live broadcast rights for the event, the women’s portion of which will be telecast on ESPN3 and the ESPN app. The men’s competition will be telecast on ESPN.
What time is the 2021 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?
Female eaters are set to be introduced at 10:45 a.m. EST with the women’s competition starting promptly at 11 a.m. and the men’s competition at 12:30 p.m. The event is anticipated to conclude at 1:05 p.m.
What’s the world record to break?
In last year’s women’s competition, Miki Sudo scored first place and broke the women’s world record by eating 48.5 hot dogs and buns. Sudo will not be competing in this year’s competition, as she’s having her first child.
Reigning winner Joey Chestnut will again be returning this year, which will be his sixth consecutive crown if he wins again.
“Nathan’s shipped me out 90 pounds” of hot dogs to practice during quarantine, Chestnut told The Post last year. “I definitely had 90 pounds. They’re gone. I had to buy some more on my own.”
With Sudo sitting this year out, betters are putting their money on female competitor Michelle Lesco. Chestnut, meanwhile, is an overwhelming favorite for the main race.
What are the contest rules?
The succinct spectacle takes just 10 minutes in total, as that’s the amount of time competitors are given to scarf down as many hot dogs and buns as they can. Hot dogs must be fully eaten to count, and while contestants are allowed to dunk their hot dog buns in liquid ahead of consumption, it must not be submerged for more than a brief period, to ensure none of it dissolves. Vomiting is a disqualifying offense.