Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest
Legend has it that the first Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest was conducted at the Nathan’s flagship stand in Coney Island by four immigrants to determine who had the most patriotism flowing through their veins. While some sources have disputed the legitimacy of this claim…
The archives detail that Nathan Handwerker founded the first legendary hot dog stand in 1916 and held the inaugural hot dog eating contest on Independence Day that year – a traditional event that has persisted throughout the past century.
Nathan’s Famous has a history of gaining public attention with notorious gangster and New York native Al Capone frequently visiting the stand during his time off from the Windy City. The Coney Island weenies were so delicious that former president Franklin D. Roosevelt even served up a plate to the king and queen of England in 1939.
The first major and recorded Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest took place in 1972 at Coney Island in conjunction with the observance of Independence Day. Joseph Schechter declared independence from his diet after wolfing down 14 hot dogs and buns – capturing the first-ever Mustard Yellow International Belt.
Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest continues to attract thousands of spectators to the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues each year and even led to the popularization of Major League Eating (MLE) to sanction the competitive feeding frenzy. To satisfy all of your hot dog cravings, we decided to dive into the storied history of the Coney Island contest to explore the world-class eating event. Take a look at the results below, if you have the stomach for it!
Over the years, Coney Island has had many victors hoist the mustard-colored championship belt over their head. Top eaters utilize different strategies while stuffing their faces, like dunking their hot dogs into beverages to help dissolve the bun.
The Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest began recording official results in 1972, but it wasn’t until the turn of the century that Coney Island witnessed a spike in hot dogs being downed. Kazutoyo Arai managed to scarf down 25 dogs in 2000, but his fame was short-lived as Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi inhaled a record-setting 50 hot dogs in 2001. The Japan-based eater would go on to win the contest for six consecutive years until being dethroned by Joey Chestnut in 2007.
After downing the Japanese fan-favorite, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut dominated the hot dog eating contest for the following eight years and was even ranked as the No. 1 professional eater by the MLE. Chestnut handed over the title to Matt “Megatoad” Stonie after losing the contest in a 62-to-60 dog defeat in 2015.
Since 1984, Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest had men and women compete side-by-side. Birgit Felden, a German tourist, broke the gender barriers in 1984 as the first woman to win at Coney Island after inhaling nine and a half hot dogs and buns. As competitive eating entered the mainstream, more women began participating in the patriotic event – granting them a contest of their own in 2011.
Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas ascended to the top ranks of competitive eating after wolfing down 40 frankfurters in 2011. In 2014, Miki Sudo upset Thomas, the three-time defending champ, when she devoured 34 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. To this day, the decorated pink belt remains in Sudo’s possession after three consecutive victories.
The Greatest Eater in History
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut ousted defending champ Matt Stonie in 2016 after guzzling down a record-setting 70 hot dogs and buns at the event’s 100th anniversary. Chestnut regained the Mustard Yellow Championship Belt by gobbling down 17 more footlongs than the Megatoad. Let’s break the results down by the minute.
Within the first 30 seconds, the hot dog devourer inhaled a total of seven hot dogs. By the 5-minute mark, Chestnut had 44 hot dogs and buns down his esophagus and ready for digestion. All in all, the Coney Island legend scarfed down 70 hot dogs – breaking his 2013 record of 69. In total, Jaws was recorded gulping eight and a half hot dogs per minute and gained close to six pounds after consuming 20,790 calories by the end of regulation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Enzymes!
Whether you’re heading down to Coney Island to partake in this food frenzy or simply just spectating from the sidelines, be sure to attend sporting the best licensed apparel in the game. While your appetites are still intact, head over to Fanatics for the latest fan gear and memorabilia.