Coney Islanders and competitors are gearing up for the infamous Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest this Monday, July 4. The annual event is expected to attract thousands of viewers worldwide, starting at 10:30 a.m.
According to Phil McCann, vice president of marketing of Nathan’s Famous, the highly anticipated competition will return to its acclaimed location at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island after being moved to other locations in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
“The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is a fundamental aspect of the American experience, and we are thrilled to be back at our Flagship,” McCann said in a statement. “After two years of anticipation, we look forward to welcoming back our traditional crowd of 35,000 spectators.”
George Shea, host of the contest, says he has witnessed this silly, light-hearted event grow exponentially since he started attending them in 1988.
“When I first started doing it, it was like two cameras and you would try to find people on the street to do the contest and maybe 20 people were watching,” Shea said.
Now, not only does the event bring thousands to the Coney Island peninsula but it’s also live streamed by ESPN. Competitors travel from far and wide to take part in the contest.
“We will have an eater representing the UK this year, this guy Adam Grant. We have an eater representing Australia. So we have international eaters coming to the event. We always have,” said Shea.
Many anticipate Joey Chestnut will continue his reign as hot dog eating champion. According to Major League Eating, an organization that oversees all professional eating contests in the nation, Chestnut took first place last year after consuming 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.
“Joey Chestnut is a force from beyond who defies the laws of physics,” said Shea. “He is freedom made man, and the rock on which he stands is not a rock — it is the United States of America.”
Michelle Lesco won the women’s competition with a total of 30.75 Lesco will have to go up against former title holder Miki Sudo who holds a record of 48.5.
“Miki Sudo did not compete last year because she was pregnant…but she’s back this year trying to win back her title and it’s going to be an interesting battle,” Shea said.
There will be a show before the contest full of dancers, singers, and other exciting acts.
“We’re integrated with the alliance and over the years we’ve had performers from Coney Island USA,” he said. “This is part of the fabric of Coney Island and I’m very in tuned with Coney Island USA and the Alliance and the Wonder Wheel Park.”
No tickets or registration is required to attend the event. Organizers recommend coming around 9:30 a.m. to get the best seats.
For more information, visit the Major League Eating event site.