The exceptionally American tradition: History of Nathan's 4th of July hot dog eating contest

Joey Chestnut broke his own record in 2021, downing 76 hot dogs and buns; Miki Sudo is the contest's number-one-ranked woman.

ByAlex Meier via KTRK logo
Friday, July 1, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

Few holiday traditions can be labeled as quintessentially American as the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

NEW YORK -- Few holiday traditions can be labeled as quintessentially American as the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

For generations, the annual 4th of July frankfurter fest happened outside Nathan's flagship shop in Brooklyn's Coney Island neighborhood. In 2022, the competition will return to the iconic corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues after a two-year hiatus from the traditional location due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WATCH: Joey Chestnut eats record 76 hot dogs, wins 14th Nathan's title

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.

Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest will air live on Monday, July 4. ESPN has exclusive live broadcast rights from 10:45 a.m. ET to the conclusion of the event, expected to be at 1 p.m. ET.