Nathan’s Famous 2016 Hot Dog Eating Contest, marking the 100th anniversary of Nathan’s Famous, will take place Monday (live at noon ET on WatchESPN; also at 3 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN). Matt Stonie, the surprise winner last year, will return to defend his title.
Two competitors a cut above the rest
Stonie, the second-ranked eater before last year’s win, defeated his toughest rival, Joey Chestnut, 32.
Chestnut, who -- like Stonie -- lives in San Jose, California, had gone undefeated for eight consecutive years. Stonie ate 62 hot dogs in 2015, two more than Chestnut, who holds the world record for eating 69 Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs and buns in 10 minutes.
The top five in the International Federation of Competitive Eating records are Stonie, Chestnut, Miki Sudo (Las Vegas), Adrian Morgan (New Orleans) and Sonya Thomas (Alexandria, Virginia). Sudo and Thomas are the top-ranked women in the field.
According to Sportsbook.ag, Stonie is a minus-200 favorite (a winning $200 bet would earn $100), and Chestnut is plus-150 (a winning $100 bet would earn $150). The over-under for hot dogs eaten by each of Stonie and Chestnut is 63.5.
Versatile eater on top of the eating world
Stonie, 24 years old and 130 pounds, is nicknamed “The Megatoad.” He is the No. 1 eater in Major League Eating’s rankings.
He wrested the Nathan’s Famous championship from Chestnut last year by consuming 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, the most in the contest by anyone other than Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi.
Stonie, who holds 14 eating world records, was the first winner of the contest other than Chestnut or Kobayashi since the 2000 event was won by Kazutoyo Arai of Japan.
Chestnut seeking return to dominance
Chestnut had won every Mustard Yellow Belt since 2007 before last year’s defeat.
He holds 38 International Federation of Competitive Eating records, including chili, jalapeño poppers, pork ribs and shrimp wontons. Chestnut made a name for himself in asparagus, winning in his second competitive eating competition as a rookie in 2005.
The song played upon Chestnut’s entrance music is “Baba O’Riley” by The Who, featuring the line “Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals.”
Chestnut uses water to moisten the buns before he eats them. “I like the water to be hot, which relaxes my throat muscles,” Chestnut said in a Vanity Fair article.
In 2013, Chestnut averaged 6.9 hot dogs per minute, a record that still stands.
Three-peat in sight for women’s champion
On the women’s side, third-ranked Sudo seeks her third straight title. Last year, Sudo ate 38 hot dogs, two fewer than in her Nathan’s debut in 2013 and seven from the record set in 2012 by Thomas, who is known as “The Black Widow.”
This is the 100-year anniversary of the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.
The annual contest reportedly was first conducted in 1916 and will be held this year as part of 100th-anniversary celebrations at Nathan’s Famous flagship restaurant at Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Brooklyn, New York.
According to archives, the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has occurred each July 4 in Coney Island since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant.