It either grosses you out or inspires you, but either way, the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest is an American tradition.
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According to legend, the annual Fourth of July competition on Coney Island began in 1916 as a way for four immigrants to determine who was the most patriotic, Nathan’s website says. Regardless of whether that’s true, winners have been recorded as far back as 1972.
The contest is hosted by Nathan’s Famous and showcases competitors with Major League Eating (MLE), a professional competitive eating organization. In order to compete, contestants have to win one of MLE’s qualifying events around the country.
“We’re very lucky, in that Coney Island is a popular destination on the Fourth, but also, our event is a destination. It’s become sort of a bucket list [item],” Major League Eating President Richard Shea told FOX Business ahead of the competition.
Here’s a look at some numbers behind Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest.
Competitors have 10 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as possible during the championship.
There are 33 competitors this year, with 18 men and 15 women competing in their respective contests.
This year, 33 men and women will be competing, with 18 men and 15 women in their respective contests. Last year’s reigning champions were automatically entered into this year’s contest and 17 men and 14 women won qualifying contests to make it to Con (Major League Eating)
There is $40,000 in total prize money for the competition. The winners will each receive $10,000. Second place contestants will receive $5,000, third place gets $2,500, fourth place gets $1,500 and fifth place will receive $1,000, Shea said.
Nathan’s prepares 1,700 hot dogs in total, for the men’s and women’s competitions, Shea said. With a single Nathan’s hot dog selling for $4.75, all the hot dogs prepared for the two contests would cost $8,075.
Of the hot dogs prepared last year, the competitors ate a total of 936.75 hot dogs. The male contestants ate 693.25 and the female contestants ate 243.5, Shea said.
Reigning champion Joey Chestnut alone ate 74 hot dogs last year, which is the known world record. If he bought all those hot dogs himself, it would have cost him $351.50.
Joey Chestnut (pictured last year, center) ate 74 hot dogs at the competition last year. That is the known world record for most hot dogs eaten in 10 minutes. (Major League Eating)
Last year’s winner in the women’s competition, Miki Sudo, ate 37 hot dogs, which would have cost her $175.75.
There were 17 qualifying events across the country over the last year. Last year’s reigning champions were also automatically entered into this year’s contest.
Chestnut has won 11 Nathan’s hot dog eating competitions, which is the most anyone has won, according to the Nathan’s website. Sudo has won five hot dog eating competitions, more than any other woman.
Officials estimate the contest has between 30,000 and 40,000 spectators at Coney Island.
The competition has also aired on ESPN for the last 16 years. Last year, it had an average of 1.15 million viewers in the average minute on ESPN2, Shea said.
In total, Nathan’s sold approximately 18,000 hot dogs to Coney Island visitors on July 4, 2018 -- 12,000 were sold at the chain’s original store and another 6,000 were sold at the boardwalk, according to Shea.
Nathan’s also donates 100,000 hot dogs to Food Bank For New York City on the day of the competition, Shea said.