Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest competitors weigh in as Coney Island readies for July 4

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Friday, July 1, 2022
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Top-ranked eaters from across the globe, including 14-time champion Joey Chestnut, were certified for competition Friday.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Top-ranked eaters from across the globe, including reigning hot dog eating champion and 14-time winner Joey Chestnut, were certified for competition Friday at the official weigh-in ceremony for the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest.

It's all part of the celebration as Coney Island gears up for a busy holiday weekend.

Miki Sudo, the number-one-ranked female and odds-on favorite to win the women's competition, was also weighed in along with other competitors.

Chestnut currently holds the world record of eating 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, and he's looking for a 15th victory and a new world record.

The Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Championship will return to the iconic Nathan's Famous flagship restaurant at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, July 4.

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Tens of thousands are anticipated to attend the contest.

According to Major League Eating archives, the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Championship has occurred each July 4tin Coney Island since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant.

What to know about the biggest day in stomach-centric sports, according to Nathan's Famous:

  • Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest has been held in Coney Island every 4th of July since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant, according to Major League Eating archives. Irish immigrant Jim Mullen won with 13 hot dogs and buns.
  • Winning his 14th title, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut set a new record in 2021 after eating 76 hot dogs and buns in the 10-minute contest.
  • Chestnut, of San Jose, California, won his first title in 2007 after downing 66 "HDBs," dethroning Japan's Takeru Kobayashi.
  • Miki Sudo, the number-one-ranked woman in the hot dog-eating world, set the women's record in 2020 with 48 hot dogs and buns. She missed the contest the following year due to her pregnancy.
  • Winners are crowned with the coveted Mustard Yellow International Belt, its age unknown.
  • The 1920s saw alternating victories between Queens' Stan Libnitz and Brooklyn's Andrew Rudman until 1928 when Rudman won by half a frank. Libnitz allegedly accused Rudman of elbowing him in the stomach during their face-off, according to Nathan's, citing oral accounts.
  • The event was canceled in 1941 in protest of World War II.
  • In 2004, Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas became the first woman to eat more than 30 dogs and buns.
  • Nathan's Famous donates 100,000 hot dogs to the Food Bank for New York City prior to each year's event.

Elsewhere on Coney Island, for the first time since Superstorm Sandy, the Hew York Aquarium will open all of its public exhibits.

It is a major milestone nearly a decade in the making, and it includes a brand new exhibit called Sea Change that explores climate change and its effect on marine ecosystems and ocean life.

Work is also underway to build new rides at Coney Island's Luna Park.

The beachfront tourist destination will soon be introducing three new attractions and pedestrian plazas on several acres along boardwalk.

"Coney Island been this great, rich place with so much legacy and emotions and memories for all - not just New Yorkers, but Americans," said Alessandro Zamperla of Central Amusement International, which operates the park.

Of the three new attractions are two intertwined rides: a roller coaster called "Tony's Express" and a log flume ride called "Leti's Treasure." The two rides are designed to pay homage to classic, 19th century Coney Island rides, as well as Zamperla's family, which has been involved in circuses, carnivals and amusement parks for generations. The rides are named after Zamperla's late grandparents, Antonio and Letizia.

Tony's Express is modeled after America's first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, which opened on Coney Island in 1884. Leti's Treasure is a throwback to Shoot the Chutes, another Coney Island classic, which opened a year later in 1885.

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As part of the expansion, Luna Park will also introduce a 50-foot Sky Chaser Ropes Course and pedestrian plazas that will increase the size of the park by 50%, using land that has been vacant for almost half a century.

Coney Island's original Luna Park was destroyed by a fire and then sold in the 1940s, but the park was reborn in 2010 with the construction of a new Luna Park, which has been evolving and expanding since then.

"We've been blessed to be in the amusement park industry and overall entertainment for more than five generations," Zamperla said. "So for us to be here and to be really associated with the revitalization and really kind of rebirth of Coney Island is extremely exciting and a great honor."

The new attractions, excluding Tony's Express, are still under construction, but Zamperla said he hopes the new rides and plazas will be open to the public by the middle of summer.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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