At the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in the heart of Coney Island on July 4, 1916, a 91-year-old tradition started at Nathan’s Famous — a hot-dog eating competition. This competition is not just another eating contest. This event is the granddaddy of all eating competition!!! Think of the Super Bowl, World Series, and World Cup rolled into one event, with food. To put it into perspective, this event is so big that Nathan’s Famous attracts 30,000 spectators along with live ESPN television coverage (July 4th 7 PM EST on ESPN@) that produces rather exquisite ratings. To help identify the finest and fittest eating competition athletes, Nathan’s Famous conducts a hot dog eating circuit through the country in May and June. The lucky winners of this circuit will be competing next to the Major League Eaters like Takeru “Tsunamis” Kobayashi (2006 champion and former hot-dog record holder), Sonya “Blackwidow” Thomas, Timothy Janus, Dale Boone, and a host of others.
This year’s event will be even grander than past events. Why? Because a new hot dog eating record was set June 2, 2007. No, it was not set by perennial winner and holder Kobayashi of Japan, but a new hoss on the block, 22-year-old San Jose, CA native Joey “Jaws” Chestnut. He devoured 59 franks in 12 minutes, which shattered the old record of 53 3/4 hot dogs. This legendary feat puts “Jaws” in the 4th of July event, setting him up for a head-to-head competition with last year’s and former record holder Kobayashi. This year’s competition will be one for the ages!!!!! Let’s hope there is lots of ketchup, muster, and kraut on hand for these athletes.
Past 10 winners of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition
2006 Takeru “Tsunamis” Kobayashi (Japan) 53 3/4 hot dogs
2005 Takeru “Tsunamis” Kobayashi (Japan) 49 hot dogs
2004 Takeru “Tsunamis” Kobayshi (Japan) 52 1/2 hot dogs
2003 Takeru “Tsunamis” Kobayashi (Japan) 44 1/2 hot dogs
2002 Takeru “Tsunamis” Kobayashi (Japan) 50 1/2 hot dogs
2001 Takeru “Tsunamis” Kobayashi (Japan) 50 hot dogs
2000 Kazutoyo “the Rabbit” Arai (Japan) 25 1/8 hot dogs
1999 Steve Keiner (USA) 20 1/2 hot dogs
1998 Hirofumi Nakajima (Japan) 19 hot dogs
1997 Hirofumi Nakajima (Japan) 24 1/2 dogs