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Nathan’s Famous Independence Day Hot Dog Contest Will Be Held in New York, Without Its Regular Diner

Nathan’s Famous Independence Day Hot Dog Contest Will Be Held in New York, Without Its Regular Diner

Nathan’s Famous Independence Day Hot Dog Contest Will Be Held in New York, Without Its Regular Diner

NEW YORK (AP) — The annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest will see a field of contestants compete to devour as many wieners as they can Thursday in New York City, but this year, the event’s biggest star will be 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers) away.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who won 16 of the previous 17 contests, will not attend the competition due to a sponsorship issue. Instead, he will compete against soldiers at a U.S. Army base in El Paso later in the day.

That leaves the traditional Brooklyn event open for a new winner, with diners from around the world competing on American Independence Day to see how many hot dogs they can eat in 10 minutes.

Thousands of fans flock each year to the event held outside the original Nathan’s location in Brooklyn’s Coney Island, a waterfront destination with amusement parks and a carnival-like summer culture. ESPN will broadcast the contest live, beginning with the women’s division at 11 a.m. ET, while the men’s division will begin at approximately 12:20 p.m.

Competitors hail from more than a dozen states and five continents, with prospects from Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia and the Czech Republic vying for the coveted title and a $10,000 cash prize.

“There will be a new champion,” said Australian James Webb, who holds the world record for eating 70 doughnuts in eight minutes, at a preview event in New York on Wednesday.

Last year, Chestnut from Indiana earned the title by devouring 62 sausages and biscuits in 10 minutes. The record, which he set in 2021, is 76.

Before the event, ESPN said it would focus on two Americans with dedicated camera shots: Massachusetts high school teacher Geoffrey Esper in the men’s division and Florida dental hygiene student Miki Sudo in the women’s.

Esper finished second last year with 49 dogs and buns, though her personal best is 51. Sudo won her ninth title in 2023 with 39 1/2, but her personal best is 48 1/2, the women’s world record.

“I’m going to try my best,” Sudo said Wednesday. His rival, Mayoi Ebihara of Japan, said through a translator that he would eat until he passed out, aiming to down 50 hot dogs.

Chestnut was initially disinvited from the event due to a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods, a company that specializes in plant-based meat substitutes.

Major League Eating, which hosts the Nathan’s Famous contest, has since said it has reversed the ban, but Chestnut decided to spend the holiday with the troops anyway.

Chestnut said he would not return to the Coney Island pageant without an apology.

The event at Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, will use traditional sausages and Chestnut will attempt to out-eat four soldiers in five minutes.

Although you won’t be eating its vegan products, Impossible Foods is promoting a livestream of Chestnut’s YouTube display of flying airplanes with banners over Los Angeles and Miami. The company will also donate to an organization that supports military families based on the number of hot dogs eaten at the event, a spokesperson said.

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