Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest will be a little different in 2020. In years past, thousands of spectators gathered on Coney Island to witness the competition. However, with coronavirus restrictions on large crowds, onlookers will be taking in the competition from afar this year.
One major change is the location of the competition. For the first time ever, the popular contest will not be held outdoors but instead in an open warehouse-like space. In addition to the location, the numbers of contestants will be different. Typically 15-20 participants would compete per round. However, this year, there will be only five eaters per round.
George Shea, Chair of Major League Eating, spoke with Today about this year’s safety precautions. “We will be extremely careful and follow all the safety guidelines we can. We will social distance, require masks, test all eaters and MLE staff in advance, have extensive cleaning, and other measures to provide the safest environment possible,” he said.
The annual competition dates back to 1916. For the past 17 years, the contest aired on ESPN. In years past, Nathan’s Famous typically sells up to 15,000 hot dogs on the Fourth of July celebration.
Shea hopes the event provides much-needed entertainment for sports fans. “While this contest will be remarkably different than it usually is, we hope it provides some sports action to fans and levity to all as we celebrate Independence Day,” Shea said.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Competitors
On the men’s side of the competition, Joey Chestnut plans on defending his title. He’s won four straight titles after being upset by Matt Stonie in 2015. While many familiar faces in the competition plan to return, Stonie does not.
As for the women’s side, Miki Sudo hopes to win another title. She hasn’t lost since 2013.
Tune in to ESPN at noon ET on July 4 to check out this year’s hot dog eating competition.