Hot dog! Annual cram-fest is right around the corner

You may think that the hot dogs you throw on your grill in your backyard are no big deal, but at the world famous Coney Island Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest, hot dogs – and the consumption of them – are the star.

Each year, an estimated 35,000 hot dog aficionados witness the event in person, held as it has always been since 1916 on Independence Day at Nathan’s Famous flagship restaurant at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island.

This year’s competition looks to crown a new champion. That is, if anyone can beat the defending titleholder Joey Chestnut of San Jose, California who has set the world record, downing 69 hot dogs and rolls in 10 minutes.

However, this year, 22-year-old Matt Stonie, also of San Jose, has promised that he will defeat Chestnut and win the mustard belt for himself. Throughout the past year, Stonie has been able to defeat Chestnut in other eating competitions with foods such as Twinkies, poutine, pumpkin pie, and gyros, and believes he will be able to use some of this skill to defeat the eight-time champ at this year’s Fourth of July competition.

But, the contest isn’t just about the guys.

The women’s competition, held right before the men’s event, receives just as much attention. This year, Sonya Thomas of Alexandria, Virginia, who in the past set a world record by devouring 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes, is looking to regain her title from Miki Sudo, of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Pre-show revelries will kick off at 10 a.m. with performances that include the New York City-based brass band, “The Lucky Chops,” bagpipe-and drum duo Scottish Octopus and a K-Pop choreography showcase by the “I Love Dance” studio. The women’s competition will begin at 11 a.m., while the men’s competition will start at 12:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN 2.

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