Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Set For Friday
Legend has it that the hot dog contest has been held annually at Nathan’s Famous on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island since 1916. At high-noon up to 20 big eaters line up behind a 40-foot table to begin the 12-minute contest.
There was a report in June on the BrooklynPaper.com that the 2008 contest will be reduced to 10 minutes. A 1986 NYTimes.com article was cited, showing the traditional contest was clocked at 10 minutes and not 12 minutes. There is no official word from the Major League Eating group that the length of the contest will be altered. The potential change has upset some eaters.
In 2007 contest winner Joey Chestnut won $10,000 as part of the I.F.O.C.E. event. He downed a world record 66 hot dogs in defeating defending champ and former record holder Takeru Kobayashi by 3 hot dogs. As the winner Chestnut was given the coveted Mustard Yellow Belt.
An estimated 45,000 people were on hand in 2007 for the event and an estimated 1.5 million people watched it on ESPN. Sam Club has sponsored the 2008 qualifying rounds, showing the growing popularity of professional eating circuit.
Most contestants choose water as their drinks, but other kinds of drinks can and have been used. Condiments are optional and are usually not used. After the hot dogs are grilled they are allowed to cool slightly so as not to cause any burning when eaten. Whoever eats (and keeps down) the most hot dogs and buns is the winner. Partially eaten hot dogs count. Any hot dog still in the mouth at the end count if they are swallowed.
A previous world record was set in 2006 by Kobayashi with 53 3/4 hot dogs. 22 year old Joey “Jaws” Chestnut broke that record by downing 59 1/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes during 2007 qualifying.