Ahead of a reimagined Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, a team of elite eaters gathered on a Williamsburg rooftop on Friday to weigh in for a pandemic edition of the annual food-fest.
The spectacle — held for decades at the corner of Stillwell and Surf avenues in Coney Island — typically boasts a rambunctious crowd of thousands. Officials announced in mid-June that the 2020 frankfurter frenzy would go on as planned — but on a much smaller scale, taking place without a crowd in a private location.
In the meantime, members of the men’s and women’s divisions — pared down from 15 contestants to five each to allow for social distancing — kept with tradition on Friday and gathered for a ceremonial weigh-in. Among this year’s competitors are defending Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest champions: Joey Chestnut on the men’s side, who’s won the competition 12 times; and Miki Sudo on the women’s side, a six-time contest winner.
This year’s contest features an annual donation of 100,000 Nathan’s hot dogs to the Food Bank of New York City and hopes to raise awareness of food bank needs, Major League Eating Chairman George Shea said Friday.
“You cannot cancel Thanksgiving, you cannot cancel Christmas and you cannot cancel the Fourth of July,” Shea said. “Nathan’s is the Fourth of July. The Fourth of July is America. Therefore, by the transitive property we learned in high school, Nathan’s is America — and we will go forth on the Fourth of July.”
ESPN will televise the festivities beginning at noon on Saturday, July 4.