Competitive Hot Dog Eaters Prep for Fourth of July Contest

Mayor Bloomberg welcomed the champion eaters to New York City before Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest

Weighing in Hot Dog Eating Champs

On a sunny day in City Hall Park, rivalry flared in the shadows of the 30-foot-tall "Daddies" ketchup bottle. What else could be occurring other than the welcome of champion competitive eaters? Mayor Bloomberg and Wayne Norbitz, COO of Nathan’s Famous Inc., welcomed eating champions in preparation for Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. The contest is a yearly tradition in New York City; the archives suggest that it was first held in 1916.

This year’s contestants will be competing tomorrow at noon in Coney Island, where last year’s champion Joey Chestnut, weighing at 210 pounds, will be attempting to break his record of 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

"I am not holding back tomorrow," Chestnut said. "I mainly like to compete with myself, but if Kobayashi shows up I will still win."

Chestnut has kept his title for the past five years but Kobayashi and Chestnut tied at 59 hot dogs in the 2008 competition. Unfortunately, Kobayashi is not expected to compete this year, so a surprise visit would be welcome.

Before Chestnut gets a chance to chow down, the women's competition will go first. Female champion Sonya "The Black Widow” Thomas, weighing at only 100 pounds, will be attempting to take down 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes tomorrow.

"My stomach can stretch for the competition, but shrink as well," she said.

Larell Marie Mele, a personal trainer and aerobics instructor, will also be competing in the competition tomorrow, noting that "eating contests are a fun way to dispel the idea that competitive eaters are overweight, most of the girl eaters are model size."

Mayor Bloomberg's speech, although filled with hot dog puns, touched on the fact that the contest has become a historical tradition in the city. "The contest is has been welcomed in New York City for decades and city hall will sponsor the contest by donating condiments for the contestants," he said.

Still, the hot dog eating contest is not just fun and games. COO Wayne Norbitz shared that in honor of the contest Nathan’s will be donating 100,000 hot dogs to New York City food banks.

If you can make it out to Coney Island the competition will be held at 11:30 a.m.. If not, the competition will be broadcast on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET.