Hot dogs and July 4th have long been synonymous in America. However, hot dog eating contests and the rise of competitive eating contests is a relatively new phenomenon in America.
The biggest hot dog contest is Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. George Shea is the man who’s most responsible for the rise of Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest. This is an event that takes place every July 4th, when America celebrates her independence. Every year, about 25,000 people show up to Coney Island, New York to watch in person. ESPN will have approximately one million viewers watching on TV as well! The first ever Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest was held on July 4th, 1916. It became a sanctioned Major League Eating event in 1997. (Yes, Major League Eating is a real thing!) Like any other sporting event, this contest has gotten bigger and more well known every year because of well known players such as Joey Chestnut. Of course, it is helped by the fact that many Americans are off and that it’s on a national TV network. The purpose of the competition is to eat as many hotdogs as you possibly can in 10 minutes.
In a sign of the times, it’s now possible to bet on the event! What’s better than slamming a couple of hotdogs while watching your bet cash?!
It’s a sign that the sport is growing because more fans are engaged and there are real ways to train for the event. It’s easy to laugh or be derisive, but basketball and football wasn’t always this popular in America, either.
America has long been built around competition, sport, and food, and the Hot Dog Eating Contest manages to capture all of those moments with America on her best day.