Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest to return to live audience on July 4

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The famous 2021 Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest will take place before a live audience in Coney Island on Sunday, July 4, starting at 11 a.m.

Last year, due to the pandemic, the contest was held for media only in a private location.

The annual contest, an American holiday tradition, will be held at Maimonides Park (formerly MCU Park), home of the Brooklyn Cyclones and only steps from the Nathan's Famous flagship restaurant on Surf and Stillwell avenues.

The free, ticketed-event will follow all federal, state and city health and safety regulations.

Tickets to this year's contest will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Doors will open at 10 a.m. and the event will begin at 10:45 a.m. with the introduction of the female eaters. The women's competition begins at 11:00 a.m., while the men's competition will start at 12:30 p.m.

Last year, Joey Chestnut of Indianapolis, Indiana, set a new world record, consuming 75 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to retain his championship title. Darron Breeden finished in second place, Nick Wehry in third, George Chiger in fourth, and Eric 'Badlands' Booker in fifth.

In the women's competition last year, Miki Sudo of Tampa, Florida, broke the women's world record and took first place, marking her seventh consecutive win by eating 48.5 hot dogs and buns. Larell Marie Mele came in second, with 18 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Sudo will not be competing this year due to pregnancy.

A total of 18 men and 10 women are expected to compete on July 4.

On a typical year, as many as 30,000 fans make the pilgrimage to Surf and Stillwell avenues to watch the event in person. The ESPN telecast of the contest routinely draws an audience of millions of viewers.

An annual part of the event is the Nathan's Famous donation of 100,000 Nathan's Famous hot dogs to the Food Bank for New York City.

"It is encouraging to hold this event live for fans, who last year were unable to celebrate July 4 as they traditionally do," said James Walker, the Senior Vice President, Restaurants at Nathan's Famous. "Next year, we hope to return to the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues, where we have held this event for decade after decade."

ESPN has exclusive live broadcast rights from 10:45 a.m. to the conclusion of the event, expected to be at 1:05 p.m. ET.

The women's competition coverage will begin at 10:45 a.m. ET and will be telecast live on ESPN3 and the ESPN App. The men's competition coverage will begin at 12:00 pm ET and will be telecast live on ESPN.

According to Major League Eating archives, the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Championship has occurred each July 4thin Coney Island, NY, since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant. MLE, the governing body of all stomach-centric sport, sanctions the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Circuit and ensures the contests are judged professionally and that safety standards are in place at each event.

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