If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will! The great Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest, sponsored by Nathan’s Famous, is a 4th of July tradition that’s celebrating its 94th year this weekend. Although it’s always been beloved, the popularity of the contest skyrocketed in the past few years, propelling it to the level of a pop-culture-obsession. In fact it’s 31-year-old star eater, Takeru Kobayashi, enjoys a certain level of cult celebrity in the contest, having won the contest six times.
If you’ve ever seen the contest on TV (along with 1.5 million other viewers), it’s a sight to behold. Though the TV announcers seem to take it quite seriously, the contest still maintains its tongue-in-cheek nature, as seen here in Vegas this past May.
The situation this year is different. Rumors from ESPN report that Kobayashi’s name still isn’t on the list of competitors for this year’s July 4th Coney Island hot-dog eating championship. Apparently Major League Eating is negotiation contracts (who knew?) with Kobayashi. Some speculate that after losing the contest to 230-pound Californian Joey Chestnut since 2007, perhaps Kobayashi wants to save face and is pulling out for good.With Kobayashi out, the average “Joe” might have a shot at the coveted Mustard Belt, but they would have to beat Chestnut’s world-record of 68 hot dogs (and buns!) in 12 minutes.
A crowd of nearly 35,000 people showed up at last years competition to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells. And as Pepto Bismol joins Old Navy as an event sponsor, those in attendance can expect to receive some memorable souvenirs from the event.
Kobayashi-drama aside, the results of this year’s competition are sure to be as interesting as they are nauseating.