Nathan’s Famous hog dog-eating champs to defend titles in secret locale

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The coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on most sports and entertainment venues this summer, but Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog-Eating Contest will take place as scheduled Saturday — just not in Coney Island.

The annual wiener-eating spectacle, a New York tradition for decades, will take place in an air-conditioned, private, warehouse-like location with COVID-19 precautions in place and far fewer fans.

“The Nathan’s Famous contest is synonymous with July 4, America and the celebration of freedom,” said George Shea, who hosted the weigh in Friday, according to ABC News, which broadcast parts of it on Facebook.

“We are honored to use the contest to highlight the incredible spirit of those who have supported our city and nation through the current challenge.”

Twelve-time champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who wore a mask that kept slipping off of his nose, covering only his mouth during much of the event, weighed in at 220 pounds, and said he was wary of competing in an air-conditioned space.

Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest Weigh-in.
Nathan’s Hot Dog-eating contest weigh-in.Paul Martinka

“We’ll find out if air conditioning will let me keep my up pace a little longer,” he said, noting that he was used to performing outdoors before an audience.

“It’s super weird. One of the best things about this contest is the energy, the energy the audience brings. There’s absolutely no chance of that this year. I have to know that people are watching and push it,” said Chestnut, who set a world record in 2018 by chowing down on 74 franks and buns.

And the champ admitted the coronavirus lockdown affected his eating habits.

The men defending champs, Joey “JAWS” Chestnut wighted at 220 lb while the women defending champion Miki Sudo hit 132 lb on the scale.
The men’s defending champ, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut weighed in at 220 pounds, while the women’s defending champion Miki Sudo hit 132 pounds on the scale.Paul Martinka

“I ate too much and I gained a little bit of weight. Once I realized I was gaining weight, I started eating healthy — lot more vegetables,” he said. “It’s hard to eat healthy during quarantine. It’s so easy to order take out and delivery food.”

But, he added: “I’m really happy we’re able to keep this tradition alive.”

The men defending champs, Joey “JAWS” Chestnut wighted at 220 lb while the women defending champion Miki Sudo hit 132 lb on the scale.

Perennial women’s champ Miki Sudo, who weighed in at 132 pounds and whose all-time best is chomping 41 hot dogs and buns, was also stoked for the competition.

“I’m really excited to compete. I’ll be going for the women’s world record,” she said, while adding that the AC also could be a factor.

“I prefer to eat in 95 degree weather rather than air conditioning but we’ll roll with the punches. I’m more ready than ever.”

Chestnut and Sudo then posed for pictures, including a socially distanced, masked stare-down — and then pretended to eat from a platter of tube steaks with their masks still on.

ESPN will air the contest, which will include only five eaters rather than the usual 15 to allow for social distancing, at noon New York time.

The contest makes an annual donation of 100,000 Nathan’s Famous hot dogs to Food Bank for New York City, and will also raise cash for food banks.

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