Joey Chestnut repeat? Nathan's hot dog contest a go for July 4 without crowd

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Nathan's Famous will still hold the 2020 Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Coney Island on July 4, but there will be no crowd due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual contest, an American holiday tradition on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues for generations, will take place in a private location with COVID-19 safety measures in place.

It will be one of the first major televised post-COVID competitive events to be held in the United States.

The event will feature 10-minute competitions for leading male and female eaters, including 12-time champion Joey Chestnut and six-time winner Miki Sudo.

Chestnut holds the world record of 74 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, while Sudo's all-time best is 41 hot dogs and buns. The women's world record is 45 Nathan's Famous hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

"We're ecstatic to make the announcement that the Hot Dog-Eating Contest will take place this year," said James Walker, Nathan's Famous Senior Vice President, Restaurants. "2020 has been a year for the history books, and the realization that this storied July 4 tradition would be able to occur, is a great feeling. With that being said, our country and our world has endured so much in the last couple of months, that we'd be remiss if we didn't use this moment to honor those that have done so much for each of us during this time."

The contest, which features an annual donation of 100,000 Nathan's Famous hot dogs to Food Bank for New York City, will be dedicated to raising funds for food banks and to raising awareness of food bank needs.

Major League Eating and individual eaters will make donations to food banks and use the contest as a platform to highlight the work of these organizations.

The contest also will be used as a platform to honor essential workers in New York City, many of whom have not received recognition for their efforts.

"We owe so much to those that kept our communities fed and cared for during this unprecedented time, and we look forward to honoring them on July 4," Walker said.

ESPN will air its noon ET telecast of the contest, which will include only five eaters rather than the usual 15 to allow for social distancing.

"The Nathan's Famous contest is synonymous with July 4, America and the celebration of freedom," host George Shea said. "We are honored to use the contest to highlight the incredible spirit of those who have supported our city and nation through the current challenge."

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