Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

Updated Jul 11, 2018 at 04:40AM EDT by Y F.

Added Jul 05, 2017 at 02:01PM EDT by Matt.

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The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is an annual food competition held on Independence Day in Coney Island, New York. The contest has launched the competitive eating careers of Joey Chestnut, Takeru Kobayashi, Matt Stonie and more.


According to legend, on July 4th, 1916, Jim, an Irish immigrant, and three friends held the first, unofficial hotdog eating contest at Nathan's Hot Dogs in Coney Island. According to Jason Fagone's book, Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream, Mullen argued with his friend about who was the most American, deciding that a hotdog eating contest would prove their patriotism. Mullen finished 13 Nathan's franks in 12 minutes. The contest has been held every year since then, except for 1941 in protest of the war in Europe and in 1971, "when it was canceled as a protest to civil unrest and the reign of free love."[1]

However, while this has been cited by The New York Times as the founding of the contest, Nathan's Hot Dogs has said that the company has no evidence of the contest before the 1970s.[2]


According to Nathan's, the first official Hot Dog Eating Contest took place on July 4th, 1972, where Jason Schechter ate 12 hot dogs to win.[3] Throughout the 70s, Nathan's held the event intermittently, and occasionally on other holidays, such as Memorial Day and Labor Day.[4] However, since 1978, the contest has been held annually on the 4th of July.

In the late-90s, The Hot Dog Eating Contest exploded in popularity thanks to six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi. Kobayashi shattered records in his first contest in 2001, where he ate 50 hot dogs, doubling the previous record of 25. Additionally, he introduced various techniques to the sport, allowing participants to more hot dogs and effectively helping competitive eating and the Hot Dog Eating Contest grow in exposure. In 2007, roughly 50,000 people attended the contest.

Kobayashi left the competition in 2009, after he refused to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, who sanctions the contest. However, in 2011, Kobayashi competed unoffically, by holding a private competition and beating champion Joey Chestnut's record.[5]

In 2011, Sonya Thomas became the first Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest for Women champion, consuming 40 hot dogs in 10 minutes. She has since won the contest four times.

Since Kobayashi has stopped competing, the running champion has been Joey Chestnut, who set a record in 2017, eating 72 hot dogs.

Notable Figures

Matt Stonie

The 2015 champion and frequent competitor, Matt Stonie has become a popular YouTuber, recording and uploading various eating challenges. Joining YouTube on August 23rd, 2012, he has amassed more than 2.8 million subscribers and more than 546 million views as of July 2017.

Search Interest

External References

[1] Jason Fangone – Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream="Jim+Mullen*+is+the+original+hot-dog+champion."&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q="Jim%20Mullen*%20is%20the%20original%20hot-dog%20champion."&f=false

[2] The New York Times – No, He Did Not Invent the Publicity Stunt

[3] Nathan's Hot Dogs – Hall of Fame

[4] Wikipedia – Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

[5] Deadspin – Kobayashi Somehow Sets A New, Totally Unofficial Hot Dog Eating Record

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