Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Continues Without Its Star

NEW YORK (AP) — Nathan’s Famous celebrates the Fourth of July every year. Hot Dog Eating Contest The New York International Food Festival will see a series of competitors compete to eat as much hot dogs as possible in New York City on Thursday — but this year, the event’s biggest star will be dining 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers) away.

Joey “Gus” Chestnut, who has won 16 of the past 17 contests, will not be attending the competition due to Tiff careInstead, he will compete with soldiers at a U.S. Army base in El Paso later today.

That leaves the Brooklyn tradition wide open for a new winner, with eaters from around the world competing on Independence Day to see how many hot dogs they can eat in 10 minutes.

Thousands of fans flock each year to the event held outside Nathan’s original location on Brooklyn’s Coney Island, a seaside destination with theme parks and a summer carnival culture. ESPN will broadcast the contest live, with the women’s division starting at 11 a.m. ET and the men’s division starting at approximately 12:20 p.m.

Competitors come from more than a dozen countries and five continents, with prospects from Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia and the Czech Republic vying for the prestigious title and $10,000 in prize money.

“There will be a new champion,” Australian James Webb, who holds the world record for eating 70 doughnuts in eight minutes, said at a preliminary event in New York on Wednesday.

last year chestnutAmerican John Kerry, from Indiana, managed to win the title after he was able to digest 62 dogs and meat in 10 minutes. His record in 2021 was 76 dogs.

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Ahead of the event, ESPN said it would focus on two Americans with dedicated camera shots: Jeffrey Esper, a high school teacher in Massachusetts, in the men’s division, and Miki Sudo, a dental hygiene student in Florida, in the women’s division.

Esper came in second last year with 49 strokes, though her personal best is 51. Sudo won her ninth title in 2023 with 39 1/2, but her personal best is 48 1/2, which is the women’s world record.

“I will try to challenge myself,” Sudo said Wednesday. Her competitor, Mayoi Ebihara of Japan, said through a translator that she would eat until she passed out, with the goal of eating 50 hot dogs.

Chestnuts were first uninvited From the event through a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods, a company specializing in plant-based meat alternatives.

Major League Eating, which organizes Nathan’s Famous, has since announced it has reversed the ban, but Chestnut decided to spend the holiday with the troops anyway.

Chestnut said he would not return to the Coney Island competition without an apology.

The event is scheduled to start at Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso at 5 p.m. EST and will use traditional hot dogs, with Chestnut trying to eat more than four soldiers in five minutes.

While he won’t be eating their plant-based products, Impossible Foods is promoting the show’s YouTube livestream by flying banners over Los Angeles and Miami. A company spokesperson said it will also donate to an organization that supports military families based on the number of hot dogs eaten at the event.

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