Hot dogs and 4th of July are a pairing that rivals Halloween and candy. Grilled, boiled, microwaved, over a fire — they’re cooked so many different ways and enjoyed differently, too. But for the contestants of the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, they’re plain. This year will be no different!
The event that began in 1972 is still going on despite the coronavirus pandemic. But there are fewer contestants competing for the $10,000 prize. Only 5 men and 5 women will test their hot-dog eating strength. Usually, there are 15 contestants each.
Related: How to Make Sure Your Fourth of July BBQ Food Is Safe to Eat
ESPN will air the contest at 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, July 4, like usual — except that there won’t be any cheering. No spectators are allowed in to see if 2019’s winner, Joey Chestnut, can break his record of eating 71 hot dogs in 10 minutes (we don’t recommend trying this at home).
“You won’t have 40,000 raving fans watching from the corner of [Coney Island’s] Surf and Stillwell this year,” says the senior vice president for Nathan’s Famous Inc. James Walker, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.
“We’re holding it in an enclosed location in the Coney Island area. And we have not only put in place for the eaters and judges everything from Plexiglass dividers and ensuring social -distancing criteria but also put in place safe pathways from green rooms to staging areas.”
Fewer people are helping with production, but the number of viewers is expected to hit at an all-time high. There are no other sporting events scheduled at that time because of the pandemic. Interested in placing a bet on who will win the hot dog eating contest? Chestnut is the favorite for the men’s competition. Miki Sudo, who has won six times in her career, is the favorite for the women.
If all this hot dog talk has you hungry, try out one of the 7 Tastiest Gourmet Hot Dogs You’ve Never Tried. Or try one of the 25 Traditional 4th of July Recipes That’ll Make You Feel So Patriotic because what goes better with a frankfurter than a watermelon margarita, creamy potato salad, or Coca Cola cake?
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