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Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: Patriotic Gluttony

Here’s how to watch the festivities.

Few things say ‘Murica like the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, taking off this afternoon in Coney Island.

The anniversary of the Declaration of Independence’s approval has several notable features. Barbecues, fireworks, the beach, the pool, the grill, and adults shoving dozens of hot dogs into their faces under time pressure. It’s as American as the bald friggin’ eagle.

On this day, we see names and faces we don’t enjoy nearly enough the other 364 days. Walk with us through this American tradition and how you can watch it today.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: The Digs

Any Brooklynite or New York City maven you know can affirm they’ve heard of the corner of Stillwell and Surf. At this Coney Island intersection lies Nathan’s Famous, the original hot dog stand of the reputed chain. There are reportedly over 1,000 Nathan’s restaurants around the world. Those signature hot dogs are served both there and at the contest.

The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place in front of the original Coney Island location. Okay, technically, it’s on the side, on Stillwell Avenue. There are only so many people you can cram into that area, but there could be thousands on hand.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: The Dogs

Believe it or not, there is actually a science to winning a hot dog eating contest. This is not going to your brother’s house for a barbecue and eating three of them. Those hot dogs are watered down and eaten in a way to maximize intake and minimize bites.

It’s not for the squeamish among us, as dipping those hot dogs in water is kind of disgusting, really.

A few years ago, ESPN’s Sport Science did a piece explaining how they do it.

The men’s record is held by none other than Joey Chestnut with 70. That’s seven hot dogs a minute for ten minutes. I don’t blame you if you feel ill.

On the women’s side — which has only existed since 2011 — Sonya Thomas has the record of 45.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: The Eaters

Joey Chestnut is the legend of hot dog eating, if such a thing exists. He has won nine of the last ten Nathan’s contests, and his hope is for ten out of eleven.

The man who broke Chestnut’s streak, Matt Stonie, looks to make it two out of three for himself. Stonie won the Mustard Belt in 2015, stopping Chestnut from winning a ninth contest in a row.

Miki Sudo has won the last three women’s contests, and if she makes it four, she’ll be the leader in the women’s division.

We can’t close this segment without mentioning George Shea. He is not an eater, rather the emcee. Shea is perhaps the greatest master of ceremonies on any level in the history of mankind. The Oscars have Billy Crystal, and Nathan’s has Shea. Billy Crystal has low-key schtick, and Shea has raw energy. George Shea should emcee my life.

I mean, here you go. Find me someone better at what he does; I’ll wait.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: How To Watch

The contest takes place at 12:00 noon Eastern time. For you folks in California, that’s 9:00 am. And, for you folks elsewhere in the world, you’re probably deeply embarrassed by now.

It airs on ESPN and WatchESPN.

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