The Fourth of July may be known as a day for remembering the freedoms we have as citizens of the United States of America, but it has also become known for the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
The 2014 edition of the eating competition is shaping up to be the best yet.
Seven-time defending men’s champion Joey Chestnut returns to defend his title once again, and three-time defending women’s champion Sonya Thomas will also be in New York to fight for another pink championship belt.
In a competition all about fun—and just a touch of gluttony—here is all the vital viewing information, the prize money and a focus on the biggest star of the competition.
Where: Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York
When: Friday, July 4
Time: Women's Championship, 11:30 a.m. ET; Men's Championship, 12:40 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN News (Live at 12 p.m. ET), ESPN 2 (tape delay at 1 p.m. ET)
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest Competitors|
|Men's Field||Women's Field|
|Joey “Jaws” Chestnut||Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas|
|Matt “The Megatoad” Stonie||Miki Sudo|
|Erik “The Red” Denmark||Michelle Lesco|
|Brian “Dud Light” Dudzinski||“The Lovely” Juliet Lee|
|Jeff “The Beast Man” Butler||Meredith “Deep Fried Diva” Boxberger|
|Tim “Eater X” Janus||“The Real Deal” Larell Marie Mele|
|Adrian “The Rabbit” Morgan||Mrs. Carlene LeFevre|
|Marcos “The Monster” Owens||Neslie Ricasa|
|Eric “Badlands” Booker||Mary Bowers|
|Sean “Flash” Gordon||Nicole Rodriguez|
|Yasir Salem||Marlene Wigginton|
|Aaron “The A-Train” Osthoff||Nicole Kulig|
|Juan “More Bite” Rodriguez||Val “Valkyrie” Bromann|
|Sgt. Horacio Chanyau|
According to Major League Eating’s official website (yes, that’s a real thing), the total prize money for this year’s competition is a whopping $40,000 total.
The governing body hasn’t shared exactly how the prize money will be broken down, but both the men and the women were allotted $20,000 in 2012 and 2013, so expect more of the same this year.
Competitor to Watch: Joey “Jaws” Chestnut
There are many eaters to watch Friday, but none deserve more attention than Joey “Jaws” Chestnut.
Chestnut has gained mainstream popularity for his feats of endurance eating hot dogs, and the California native broke his own world record in 2013 by eating 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.
You heard me correctly: I said he ate 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes. That’s almost seven hot dogs a minute.
When asked about the toll eating so many hot dogs and buns in such a short time takes on his body, Chestnut told Walter Scott of Parade.com about the mental and physical issues he deals with during the event and afterward:
If I win, I feel great, and if I break a record, I’ll feel even better. My body is in shock; it’s similar to a marathon runner or a boxer who has pushed their body extremely hard and beaten it up a little bit. Going into the contest, I’m prepared to feel like garbage for a day in a half. I know I’m not going to feel good afterwards just because I’m pushing for an extreme limit and my body has to digest this massive amount of food. It’s done it before; it’s a psychological game. Once I eat 50 hot dogs and get it down and digest it, I know I can do 52 hot dogs. It’s just a matter of convincing my body it’s okay, pushing that limit.
The title of being the hot dog eating champion of the world doesn’t come without controversy, though. Without six-time champion and competitive eating legend Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi in the field, many feel that the event is lacking the true ferocity it once possessed.
Regardless, Chestnut has continued to thrill the crowds by not resting on his laurels.
Chestnut is the No. 1 ranked competitive eater in the world, according to MajorLeagueEating.com, but instead of being happy with his previous success, the American star is getting better each year and setting new world records.
With a new crop of challengers joining the race and some of the more familiar faces in the sport, all eyes will be on Chestnut on the Fourth of July as he attempts to keep the mustard-yellow championship belt in America.
Friday will be an exciting competition.
Stats and information via NathansFamous.com.