Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest 2012: Top Candidates to Dethrone Joey Chestnut

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Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest 2012: Top Candidates to Dethrone Joey Chestnut
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

It's July 4, and nothing celebrates America more than stuffing your face with hot dogs until you puke.

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest remains one of the most bizarre—yet entertainingly watchable—sporting events to date, as contestants race to see how many hot dogs (with the buns) they can choke down in just 10 minutes.

The event will be shown at noon EST on ESPN3 and again at 3 p.m. EST on ESPN. 

The event has been dominated for half of the past decade by Joey "Jaws" Chestnut. Chestnut, a five-time champion, is looking for his sixth straight victory at the event to break the record set by former great Takeru Kobayashi. Chestnut set the world record with 68 hot dogs in the 2009 contest. 

Jaws has had little trouble ousting the field since Kobayashi's departure from Major League Eating in 2010, but the field is lining up to potentially give Chestnut some problems this year.

Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti

Patrick Bertoletti is undoubtedly the best threat to steal the spotlight from Chestnut in this year's event.

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"Deep Dish" is one of the young, up-and-coming eaters in MLE and has earned a spot at No. 2 in the world rankings. 

Bertoletti is perhaps most well known for his victories at the Jalapeno Eating Championships, where he gorged down 275 jalapenos in just eight minutes. He choked down 53 hot dogs in the 2011 competition.

However, every eating championship pales in comparison to Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. The Mustard Yellow Belt is the most coveted trophy in the sport, and he'll be fighting to steal it from Chestnut this year and achieve glory.

Tim "Eater X" Janus

Tim Janus is one of the brightest personalities in the sport.

Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Janus has been on Chestnut's heels for some time, and he's looking forward to finally topping the sport's supreme champ. The 35-year-old is named "Eater X" for his mysterious face-painting techniques.

Janus is No. 3 in the world rankings behind Chestnut and Bertoletti. 

His forte is pie eating, and shattering the world record for tamales, but he's boded well in the past at the big event. He chomped down on 45 hot dogs in the 2011 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, and should be in prime position to contend today.

Bob Shoudt

Bob Shoudt should be a top contender to take down the five-time champion in the 2012 contest.

The 44-year-old Shoudt should be able to use his 285-pound frame to his advantage and put up a formidable fight. He finished with 39 hot dogs in the 2011 Independence Day event.

Shoudt is more well known for his Krystal eating successes (39 in two minutes!), but he'll have to make the quick transition to hot dogs to be ready for this highly-competitive munch-a-thon.

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