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The annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: A tradition on July 4
The Fourth of July means Americans celebrating the day that our country became and independent land. There are cookouts, baseball games, fireworks and a hot dog eating contest that now draws worldwide exposure and competitors.
I'm of course talking about the annual Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest that held outside the original Nathan's in Coney Island, New York.
Records show it began back in 1916, right on Surf Avenue in Coney Island as a way to promoting the great tasting Nathan's brand. The contest has been held every year since then, with the exception of 1941 and 1971.
It's no longer a little storefront contest, but an event that is televised all over the world, has qualifying events leading up to the Coney Island extravaganza, and puts up prizes and endorsements to the winners. In fact, the competition has averaged a 1.0 rating and over 1.3 million viewers over the last seven years on ESPN with former voice of the Indy 500 and current voice of NHRA Drag Racing, Paul Page handling the bite-by-bite duty.
Competitors come in all shapes and sizes and from places all over the world. Joey Chestnut of California is the current hot dog eating champion as he holds the world record for downing 68 hot dog and buns in 10 minutes. He will be going for his fifth straight title in 2011. Sonya Thomas is the most famous woman to compete in the contest. Weighing 105 lbs., Thomas always gives the guys a run for thier monry.
Chestnut is maybe best known for ending the reign of longtime champ Takeru Kobayashi, of Japan. Kobayashi put the contest on the map when year after year, he kept breaking records and amazing the crowds. The 160 lb. athlete, and I do call these eaters athletes, previously held the hot dog world record with 63. Kobayashi is an icon of eating and even though it looks like it won't happen in 2011, fans long for the day with Chestnut and Kobayashi will again do battle.
At least 20 big eaters with empty stomachswill be on hand for the 2011 Nathan's event. Lets look for more world records and huge crowds on the boardwalk.
Rick Limpert covers sports, technology and politics in and around Atlanta. He once ate 3 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
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