14 Delicious Facts About Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

nathan's hot dog

Nothing says 4th of July in Brooklyn more than the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest! Let’s celebrate with these fun facts about America’s favorite competitive eating contest!

1. The first ever Nathan’s hot dog eating contest was on July 4, 1926. Rumor has it that three men arguing over who was the most patriotic decided to settle the argument with, what else, a hot dog eating contest! James Mullen was the winner. He downed 13 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

2. In 2010, promoter Mortimer Matz admitted to making up the story about the first hot dog eating contest in the 1970s to create publicity. Nathan’s says Matz never worked for them and is lying.

3. Even celebrities try to get in on the fun. In 2003 NFL star William “The Refrigerator” Perry competed in the world famous hot dog contest. He won the qualifying event by eating 12 dogs, but only ate 4 during the contest and quit after 5 minutes. That was the end of celebrity contestants.

nathan's hot dog

William “The Refrigerator” Perry far right

4. The World record holders are Joey Chestnut who ate 69 hot dogs in ten minutes and Sonya Thomas who ate 45. (Breaking: Chestnut broke his record this week in a qualifying round. He ate 73.5 hot dogs!)

5. 2011 was the first time there was an all women’s contest. Birgit Felden was the only woman to have won when both genders competed together.

6. Joey Chestnut from California holds the most titles at 9.

nathan's hot dog

7. Takeru Kobayashi from Japan holds 6 titles, but hasn’t competed in the past few years.

8. Scandal: Former champion Takeru Kobayashi can no longer participate in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest due to a contract dispute with Major League Eating. He was even arrested at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest in 2010. All charges were dismissed, but he was removed from the hot dog Wall of Fame in 2011. Kobayashi told reporters he had a sandwich and a glass of milk while being held in custody. “I am very hungry,” he said. “I wish there were hot dogs in jail.”

Nathan's hot dogs
9. In 2016, Matt Stonie ended the 8 year winning streak of Joey Chestnut by eating 62 hot dogs to Joey’s 60.

10. How the heck do they eat so much?

There are a few methods pro eaters use to down the most hot dogs. The most popular is the “dunking” method. Contestants dip the buns in water and squeeze out the water before eating. The idea is it helps it slide down their throat.

Another method is the “Solomon Method” created by Takeru Kobayashi. You break the hot dogs in half; eat both halves at once, followed by the bun.

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