For 102 years, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs have held their annual Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4 in Coney Island. Over the decades, it’s become a major event: tens of thousands of spectators gather to watch the food battle go down, in which dozens of competitors stuff their faces as rapidly as possible with processed meat and buns. This year, once more, a new crop of pre-qualified contenders will face down their piles of hot dogs in an attempt to win the title, the “Mustard Belt” and a stack of prize money.
What is Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?
Every year on July 4, the hot dog brand Nathan’s Famous hosts a hot dog eating contest at their Coney Island home, a spot that TIME has previously called the “spiritual home of the U.S. hot dog.” (Nathan’s was also once the world’s largest hot dog stand, with each dog costing 20 cents a pop.) In ten minutes, the world’s top competitive eaters get to try to consume as many hot dogs as possible. Both men and women are invited to participate, although they have to first make the cut in regional pre-event qualifying rounds. Winners receive glory and the famed “Mustard Belt,” but also a monetary prize: first place gets $10,000, second place $5,000, and so on.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is now considered one of the biggest and most famous competitive eating events in the world.
Who’s going to win?
The current reigning champion is Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who last year devoured 72 hot dogs in under ten minutes, all-time record for the event. (In 2016, he managed to chow down on 70.) Chestnut also won eight times consecutively from 2007 to 2014 before being bested in 2015 by competitor Matt “Megatoad” Stonie. But Chestnut has said he has capacity for even more. However, first he’ll have to battle out last year’s runner-up Carmen Cincotti, who scarfed down 60 in 2017. “I’m nervous and excited and hopefully we push each other to the limit,” Chestnut told AdAge in a recent interview. “In order for us to do well, our bodies have to be really healthy, to be able to push ourselves this far and this hard,” he further explained of the preparation. “It’s like any sport.”
On the women’s side, Miki Sudo ate a whopping 41 hot dogs in 2017, marking her fourth consecutive win. She’ll be back for a fifth round this year.
OK. I’ll bite. How do I Watch Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?
Starting at 10:50 a.m. ET, you can tune into ESPN3 or the ESPN app on your mobile device for live coverage. At noon, coverage will switch to ESPN2. And the men’s event will be re-aired on ESPN2 at both 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET, just in case you need to watch all that hot dog fun again and again.
What’s the schedule?
The women’s contest officially kicks off at 11 a.m. EST, and the men’s event will follow it up at 12:30 p.m. EST. After that, time for everyone to rest and digest.