NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – It may be one of the nation’s greatest displays of gluttony, but New Rochelle residents are ready to cheer on their favorite competitive eaters at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Joey Chestnut, who broke his own world record by downing 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes last year, will attempt to defend his mustard yellow championship belt against a field of 16 competitive eaters with names like Matt ‘The Megatoad” Stonie and Tim “Eater X” Janus, all vying for $40,000 in prize money.
The hot dog eating contest has become a Fourth of July tradition for many Americans, though some find the event to be offensive while there are those without food on the streets. Despite that argument, thousands flock to Coney Island every year to watch and the event is telecast on ESPN.
“It’s kind of like the beginning of the Fourth of July. Everyone gathers around to watch the insanity, then the barbecue can begin,” Elle Rodgers said in New Rochelle on Thursday. “That said, it’s pretty gross the way they do it.”
While New Rochelle residents are busy grilling up hot dogs for themselves, the competitive eaters will be dunking their buns in water, shoveling half broken dogs down their throats and doing whatever else it takes to choke down the most meat.
“If I’m around a television and see that it’s on, I’ll watch it for a few minutes, but I’m not about to go out of my way to watch a bunch of grown men eating too much,” New Rochelle resident Dan O’Connor said. “I don’t understand the people that actually go to Coney Island to watch it.”
This year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest will kick off with the introduction of women contestants at 11:15 a.m., Friday, followed by the women’s contest 15 minutes later. The ESPN telecast begins promptly at noon, with the introduction and men’s contest at 12:30 p.m.
“Joey Chestnut is the man! He’s like the (Michael) Jordan of professional eating,” John Burns said animatedly. “Hopefully this year there’s some actual competition and he doesn’t just run away with it like usual.”