Home > Sports betting > Dog eat dog world? In US, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest a kooky cultural event

Dog eat dog world? In US, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest a kooky cultural event

| By Jill R. Dorson | Reading Time: 3 minutes
The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest takes the idea of the traditional fourth of July barbecue to a new level. This year, the contest won't feel the same after 16-time champion Joey Chestnut has parted ways with organisers.
nathans hot dog eating contest

The Nathan’s hot dog contest, held at Coney Island in New York, pits America’s top competitive eaters against one another in a race against the clock. How many hot dogs and buns can a person eat in 10 minutes? You would be surprised – in 2021, Chestnut set a world record by eating 76, including the buns. It’s not pretty – but it’s pretty funny – to watch.

Competitors dip their buns and dogs in water to soften them up and then quite literally suck them down. Their cheeks bulge like chipmunks. Their faces anguish like marathon runners. The winner is the person who eats the most – and keeps it down. The contest isn’t just about speed.

The winner gets the coveted Mustard Belt, which looks a lot like a boxing championship belt… but with a hot dog and Uncle Sam on it.

You can bet straight up or over-under

As sports betting has proliferated in the US, the Nathan’s contest has become a kooky, fun betting event. Many major US operators offer odds. And not just on who the winners will be, but also over-unders on how many dogs will be eaten by whom.

On the DraftKings website in some legal betting states, you’ll find the entry “hot dog” tucked between hockey and lacrosse. As of Tuesday (2 July), the favourite on DraftKings was Geoffrey Esper at -120 to win. Esper finished second to Chestnut last year, downing 49 dogs and buns to Chestnut’s 62.

With Chestnut out of the picture, the competition should be tighter. James Webb (+200) ate 47 dogs last year to finish third and Nick Wehry (+550) downed 45 to finish fourth.

At FanDuel, the oddsmakers think the contest will be even closer – as of Tuesday, Esper was the favourite at +100 with Webb at +125.

Other sportsbooks, like ESPN Bet and Bet365, offer only straight-up bets on who will win the Nathan’s hot dog contest.

Oh! The drama…

Chestnut won’t be competing in the contest this year after a drama that played out last month. He signed a deal with Impossible Foods, which makes a non-meat hot dog. Major League Eating (MLE) and Nathan’s took issue with Chestnut shilling for a competitor. After much finger pointing and name calling, Chestnut won’t compete at Coney Island this year.

“We are devastated to learn that Joey Chestnut has chosen to represent a rival brand that sells plant-based hot dogs rather than competing in the 2024 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating contest,” MLE said in a statement 11 June. “MLE and Nathan’s went to great lengths in recent months to accommodate Joey and his management team, agreeing to the appearance fee and allowing Joey to compete in a rival, unbranded hot dog eating contest on Labor Day.”

Chestnut will still be eating his share of hot dogs on Independence Day. He’s scheduled to compete against four soldiers at Fort Bliss in Texas. The contest will pit Chestnut against all four soldiers combined.

Sudo a nine-time champ on the women’s side

Back at the Coney Island contest with Chestnut out, the biggest name will be Miki Sudo, the nine-time women’s winner. Sudo downed 39.5 hot dogs to win last year and holds the women’s world record of 48.5.

As of Tuesday, she was a -1,200 favourite on DraftKings, which set the over-under at 40.5 frankfurters. On FanDuel, Sudo is a -1,000 favourite and the over-under there is 39.5.

Hosted by Jeremy Schaap and Rich Shea, the men’s Nathan’s contest is set to air on ESPN2 live at noon ET on 4 July with replays at 5pm and 9pm. The women’s contest will air live at 10.45am ET on ESPN3.

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