Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest: Reigning champs Chestnut, Sudo eat their way to victory

Chestnut won his 16th Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest title while Sudo became champ for 9th time

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Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Chestnut wins hot dog contest after weather delay; Sudo wins for women
After a two-hour weather delay at the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, reigning champion Joey Chestnut ate his way to victory once again. Jim Dolan has more on the wacky series of events at Coney Island.

NEW YORK -- After a two-hour weather delay at the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, reigning champion Joey Chestnut ate his way to victory once again.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the host of the competition announced the men's division was canceled by the NYPD due to lightning.

A lightning strike on the boardwalk even sent two people to the hospital.

Host George Shea said the city and NYPD told him to cancel the event. Despite the announcement, Nathan's said it was a weather delay and rescheduled the event for the afternoon.

"I think there was a legitimate safety issue because the water was coming down so fast and so heavy," She said.

People take shelter from rain as the 2023 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest was paused.

AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

Chestnut ate 62 hot dogs to win his 16th title. He did not come close to his men's world record of 76 hot dogs and buns eaten in 10 minutes in 2021.

Before the abrupt delay, Miki Sudo defended her championship title by eating 39 and a half hot dogs.

Sudo thought she ate 37 hot dogs, but then after a judge's count, it was revealed she went so fast some were not counted, bringing her total up to 39 and a half.

She is the top female champion of all time, now with nine Nathan's titles to her name. Sudo, 37, of Port Richey, Florida holds a world record for eating six hot dogs in one minute.

"39 is a low number I'm sorry you guys!" Sudo said. "I would not have left a partial hot dog on the table."

In the women's division, Mayoi Ebihara came in second place with 33 and a half hot dogs eaten. Michelle Lesco finished in third place with 24 and a fourth hot dogs eaten.

For the men, second place went to Geoffrey Esper with 49 hot dogs and third place went to James Webb with 47.

WATCH | Anthony Carlo reports from the scene as the contest was abruptly canceled:

Anthony Carlo and Dani Beckstom report on the cancelation of the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest due to lightning.

Some fun facts on this zany decades-long annual Fourth of July tradition:

Where is the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest held each year?

The Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest typically takes place outside the original Nathan's location in Coney Island near Brooklyn, New York. In 2020, Nathan's had to split from tradition briefly and hold the contest in a private location with no fans, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What year did the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest start?

Though there is an urban legend that the inaugural contest took place in 1916, the first official and recorded July 4th contest took place in 1972 at Coney Island.

What are the contest rules?

Major League Eating (MLE) has managed the event since 1997. Currently, entrants have to be under contract by MLE to participate. In addition to past champions and special MLE invitees, aspiring eaters can qualify for the event during other preliminary contests.

During the event, participants must eat as many Nathan's Famous hot dogs in buns as they can within a 10 minute period. Each contestant gets their own scorekeeper who notes the number of hot dogs eaten during the contest window.

A few other rules are taken into consideration:

  • Water and other beverages are permitted and help encourage the quick flow of activity.
  • Condiments are allowed, but contestants usually pass on them.
  • Partially eaten hot dogs count and hot dogs still being chewed at the end of regulation can qualify (as long as they're successfully swallowed).
  • Penalty cards can be issued for messy eating and regurgitation.
  • Sudden death eat-offs will be put into play if there is a tie at the end of regulation.
  • What prizes do the winners get?

    First place gets $10,000, second place gets $5,000, third place gets $2,500, fourth place gets $1,500, and fifth place gets $1,000. Additionally, the top male competitor gets a mustard yellow bedazzled belt and the top female competitor gets a pink mustard bedazzled belt.

    How can you further visualize the appetites of these winners?

    Per Nathan's website, "If you laid out all of the hot dogs that past champs (since 1972) have eaten end to end, they would stretch around a baseball diamond 2.175 times!"

    How long has ESPN been affiliated with the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest?

    ESPN platforms have aired the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest since 2004. In 2022, ESPN signed a new deal with the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) to continue the broadcast partnership through 2029.

    RELATED: More fireworks celebrations happening in New York City and the Tri-State area


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