Major League Baseball takes center stage on Independence Day, and that's been the way it is in the United States since the days of Babe Ruth and even before that.
However, there are other events that can also get the attention of sports fans. Tennis enthusiasts get to watch Wimbledon, and competitive eating fans get to watch Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
There are many competitive eating events around the country involving foods like pizza, tacos, doughnuts, oysters and bratwurst, but the hot dog eating contest is the premier eating event of the year.
This year's championship will be televised on the ESPN family of networks. The women's event will be broadcast at 10:50 a.m. on ESPN3, while the men's event will be shown on ESPN2 at noon. It will also re-air at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Yes, there is prize money, as $20,000 is paid to the top men and another $20,000 is paid to the most accomplished women. It breaks down as follows:
- First place: $10,000
- Second place: $5,000
- Third place: $2,500
- Fourth place: $1,500
- Fifth place: $1,000
The event will be live-streamed at WatchESPN.com.
Joey Chestnut is the one to watch, as he has won 10 of the last 11 hot dog eating championships at Coney Island. Chestnut set the all-time record in a qualifying event in 2016 when he downed 73.5 hot dogs—buns included—and he defeated rival Matt Stonie in the main competition that year.
Stonie was the upset winner in 2015, and "Jaws" responded with huge victories the next two years.
Chestnut said he is not concerned that the competition will be held in hot weather, as AccuWeather forecasted a temperature of 96 degrees.
"Heat makes everything a little harder, it makes you fatigued (but) you've got to look at the positives," Chestnut said, per Esther Shittu of the New York Daily News. "Heat also makes you loose, it makes the muscles stretch a little bit easier," said Chestnut.
Miki Sudo is the defending women's champion, and she hammered down 41 hot dogs in the 2017 event. She made a run at Sonya Thomas' all-time record of 45 hot dogs, set in 2012.
Chestnut is an overwhelming favorite to make it 12 championships in 13 years. He is listed at -550 by OddsShark (wager $550 to earn a $100 profit), while the rest of the field is listed at +350.
Sudo is a similar big favorite on the women's side at -550, while the rest of the field is listed at +400.