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2021 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: Chestnut seeks 14th win

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Joey Chestnut
Joey Chestnut seeks a sixth straight win in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
USA TODAY

The average adult during a typical day consumes between 1,500 and 3,000 calories. Joey Chestnut consumes about 20,000 during the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.

In 10 minutes.

That generally includes over 70 hot dogs, and nearly 1,500 grams of fat, and 2,000 grams of carbohydrates, and 55,000 grams of sodium, and what must be one heck of a post-contest stomach ache.

That, and perhaps high cholesterol, is the cost of being the Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and Simone Biles of competitive eating. 

Chestnut is coming off a 2020 performance where he scarfed down a world-record 75 hot dogs en route to winning his fifth straight contest -- and 13th victory in 14 years overall. Chestnut won by a mere 32 hot dogs, consuming the 1,000th hot dog of his Nathan's contest career along the way.

He’ll look to relish (pun intended) the moment once again this weekend during the 2021 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The women's contest, however, will have a new top dog (another pun intended), as reigning seven-time champion Miki Sudo is not competing because she has a bun in the oven (and another pun intended).

 

Here's everything you need to know about the 2021 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest:   

When is the 2021 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest? 

The contest is as much a part of the Fourth of July as fireworks. It will be held on Sunday, July 4, with the women's contest beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET and the men's contest at 12:30 p.m. ET. 

The contest will be held at Maimonides Park in Coney Island, N.Y., which is a short walk from Nathan's flagship restaurant. Spectators will be back in attendance after last year's contest was indoors and limited to media only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

How to watch the 2021 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

The women's contest will be televised on ESPN3 with coverage beginning at 10:45 a.m. ET. The men's contest will air on ESPN with coverage starting at noon ET. Both contests will stream on the ESPN app.

For tickets to the contest, click here.

How does the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest work?

It’s simple: whoever eats the most hot dogs in 10 minutes is the winner.

Competitors, who must be under contract with Major League Eating, make it to Coney Island through regional qualifying events around the country. While on stage at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, which has taken place annually since 1916, the hot dog and bun can be consumed separately, with contestants dunking the bun in water to make it easier to swallow. 

Partially-consumed hot dogs are tallied in eighths. Hot dogs that are in the mouth when time runs out do count as long as they are subsequently fully consumed. Taking a drink is permitted as needed during the contest.

Competitors can be penalized for "messy eating" and even disqualified for "reversal of fortune," which in the competitive-eating world is a fancy way of saying "vomiting." 

 

Winners are awarded $10,000 and the Mustard Belt, a WWE-like bedazzled championship belt with the Nathan's logo on it.

Who are the favorites in the 2021 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest?

For the men’s contest, of course it’s the guy with as many championships as Jordan and Brady combined. 

Chestnut, having consumed 70 or more hot dogs in each of the last five contests, is the overwhelming favorite. Had it not been for Matt Stonie shocking the competitive-eating world in 2015 after beating Chestnut by two hot dogs (62 to 60), Chestnut would be seeking a 15th straight victory on Sunday. So, the other competitors essentially are playing for second behind the world’s greatest eater ... who has his own line of condiments.

With Miki Sudo, winner of the last seven women’s hot dog eating contests, not competing this year since she is pregnant with her first child, the women’s championship is up for grabs. 

Michelle Lesco, making her 10th straight appearance in the contest, is the favorite. Lesco was runner-up to Sudo in 2017 after downing a personal-best 32 hot dogs (nine fewer than Sudo). 

Lesco looks to become just the third champion since the women’s competition began in 2011. Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas won the first three and Sudo was victorious in the last seven, capped by her women’s world-record breaking performance last year with 48.5 hot dogs.