Before the fireworks comes another Independence Day tradition: the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. This eating extravaganza is a staple at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues on Coney Island in Brooklyn.
This gala of gluttony is a culinary coronation for Joey Chestnut, who has won the event 15 times. Chestnut, who entered his first Nathan's contest in 2005, hasn't lost in the competition since 2015. He is, in short, the foremost frankfurter eater ever.
As he goes for his 16th Mustard Belt on Tuesday (noon ET on ESPN2), he is an overwhelming favorite, listed at -3,000, according to Caesars Sportsbook. Here's a look at the numbers behind his run of dominance:
THEY'VE ARRIVED!🎉 Behold the stunning belts for this year's Fourth of July victorious Eaters! #roadtoconey #eatingcontest #majorleagueeating #nathansfamous #hotdogeating #julyfourth #coneyisland #mustardbelt pic.twitter.com/ZgzyOhqsqz— Major League Eating (@eatingcontest) June 27, 2023
Joey Chestnut by the numbers
The 10 highest totals in the event belong to Chestnut, and his 76 hot dogs eaten in 2021 is the record. Chestnut has eaten more than 70 dogs and buns six times. But he doesn't just devour hot dogs: He has the Major League Eating record in 54 different categories, including chicken wings (182 in 30 minutes), hard-boiled eggs (141 in 8 minutes), grilled cheese sandwiches (47 in 10 minutes) and Twinkies (121 in 6 minutes).
1,152: Since 2005, Chestnut has eaten 1,152 hot dogs and buns in the event.
682.5: Despite not participating in every event since 2005, Chestnut's total of 1,152 dogs is 682.5 more than any other eater.
7,776/648: The competition dogs from Nathan's are 6.75 inches long. The total length of hot dogs eaten by Chestnut equates to 7,776 inches, or 648 feet.
648 feet by comparison:
Distance to dead center at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium: 408 feet.
Distance of Aaron Judge's longest home run: 496 feet.
Height of the Statue of Liberty: 305 feet.
142: Each Nathan's hot dog in the competition weighs 56 grams. That means Chestnut has eaten 142 pounds of hot dogs during his 15 performances on July 4. Therefore, Chestnut has eaten a weight equivalent to the average UFC featherweight fighter.
In 2022, Chestnut ate 63 hot dogs and buns. Each amounts to 290 calories, meaning Chestnut consumed 18,270 calories in 10 minutes. In his competing career, he has eaten nearly 335,000 calories in hot dogs alone.
18,270 calories, by comparison:
Daily calories eaten by Michael Phelps in training for the 2008 Olympics: 10,000, according to Olympics.com.
Calories burned daily by polar bears: 12,234, according to Science magazine.
As Chestnut goes for his 16th Mustard Belt, there are some highly ranked competitive eaters looking to take him down. However, Matt Stonie, the last man to beat Chestnut in this event, is not slated to compete.
Chestnut vs. other GOATs
Competitive eating is typically an individual sport, with just one person against the competition.
Chestnut has won the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest 15 of the past 16 years, and seven years consecutively. Chestnut is ruling his sport in an era where he compares pretty favorably to champions in other individual sports:
Rafael Nadal: In 18 years, from 2005 to '22, he won 14 French Open titles.
Kelly Slater: He had 11 World Surf League crowns from 1994 to 2011.
Martina Navratilova: From 1978 to 1990, she won nine Wimbledon singles titles, including six in a row from 1982 to '87.
Tiger Woods: Won at least one major championship in every year except two (2003, 2004) from 1997 to 2008. That included the "Tiger Slam" from 2000 to '01 where he held all four major titles at one time.
In team sports, the championship leaders in the four majors are: Bill Russell (NBA) and Henri Richard (NHL), with 11, Yogi Berra (MLB) with 10 and Tom Brady (NFL) with seven.
Miki Sudo: Dominating the world of women's competitive eating
Miki Sudo is the world-record holder in hot dogs eaten among women -- setting the mark in the 2020 event, with 48.5 -- and has won eight of the 12 women's competitions held since 2011 (previously the event was coed).
Sudo missed the 2021 event -- won by Michelle Lesco -- while pregnant with her son Max, but she returned in 2022, chowing down 40 dogs to win the contest by a margin of 16.
But it's not just hot dogs for Sudo: She also holds four other competitive eating records:
Ice cream, short form: 16.5 pints of vanilla ice cream in six minutes (2017)
Kimchi: 8.5 pounds in six minutes (2013)
Wild rice hotdish: 14 pounds in eight minutes (2019)
Corn dogs: 21 5.6-ounce corn dogs in eight minutes (2022)
Sudo is in top form heading into the hot dog eating championship (Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. ET on ESPN3). She topped the coed field at the 2023 sweet corn eating championship on April 30, eating 52 ears in 12 minutes, just ahead of Gideon Oji at 51.5. Her husband, Nick Wehry, finished third with 44 ears eaten.
ESPN Stats & Information contributed research.