The Fourth of July may mean fireworks, flags and fairs for some, but for those who follow or participate in the competitive eating sport, Independence Day marks a very special occasion: Nathan's Famous July 4 International Hot Dog-Eating Contest.
If watching people from all over the world shove some 60 or 70 hot dogs down their throats is your thing, prepare to feast your eyes on 30 competitive eaters gorging on franks. Held at the flagship shop Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, where the first Nathan's Hot Dogs originated, the hot dog eating contest will begin at noon with more than 40,000 fans in attendance. However, if you cannot make it to the frankfurter festivities, you're in luck, as 2012 marks the ninth year the contest will be televised by ESPN, which was viewed by nearly two million people last year.
According to legends, the first hot dog eating contest was held in 1916 on July 4 by four European immigrants to determine who was the most patriotic. An Irish immigrant named James Mullen won by eating 13 hot dogs in 12 minutes. The first official contest was held on Independence Day 1972, which was won by Brooklyn college student Jason Schechter with 14 hot dogs.
For 2012, five-time champion Joey Jaws Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., will defend his title, having won last year after eating 68 hot dogs and buns (HDBs), the top record ever. Women's champ Sonya The Black Widow Thomas of Alexandria, Va., who ate 41 dogs last year in the allotted 10 minutes, will also defend her title in the women's championship. A men's and women's champ will hold titles for the Hot Dog Eating World Champion and awarded $20,000 cash prize.
If you plan on watching the weiner-eating competition, here's all the info you need and a video below of last year's Nathan's Famous July 4 International Hot Dog-Eating Contest.
10:00 a.m.: Pre-Show
11:30 a.m.: Women's Championship (ESPN3)
12:00 p.m.: Men's Championship (ESPN3)
3:00 p.m.: Men's Championship (ESPN)
4:00 p.m.: Men's Championship (ESPN2)