The Fourth of July in New York City means more than just fireworks, humid subway rides, and family barbecues. It marks the day for the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, a beloved tradition and a must-see event on midday TV across the nation. This year’s contest, challenging “competitive eaters” to devour as many hot dogs as possible in 10 minutes, is set to be particularly suspenseful.

A Shifting Landscape in Competitive Eating

For the first time in nearly a generation, the men’s competition lacks a clear favorite. Joey Chestnut, the 16-time champion known for his incredible eating feats, will not be participating. Chestnut recently signed an endorsement deal with Impossible Foods, a company that produces vegan hot dogs and is a competitor to Nathan’s. This deal has led to his exclusion from the contest, as confirmed by Major League Eating, the organization that governs competitive eating events.

The Impact of Chestnut’s Absence

Chestnut’s departure has left fans and organizers alike in a state of shock. Many viewers have tuned in year after year to watch him demolish hot dog after hot dog with astonishing speed. Last year, Chestnut consumed 62 hot dogs in just 10 minutes, solidifying his legendary status in the sport. George Shea, the charismatic figure who has been instrumental in popularizing the contest, expressed his deep disappointment over the situation. Shea stated that Chestnut’s endorsement deal left Major League Eating with no alternative but to bar him from participating.

A New Era of Competitive Eating

Despite the setback, Shea remains optimistic about the future of the contest. He believes that Chestnut’s absence opens the door for new champions to emerge, making this year’s competition more unpredictable and exciting. The contest, which has a significant following in Asia, will be broadcast live in the United States on ESPN2 and ESPN3, with additional airings on ESPN later in the evening.

Event Details

The men’s competition will commence at 11 a.m. outside Nathan’s Famous, the iconic Coney Island establishment that started a hot dog empire. The women’s competition is set to begin at noon, ensuring a full day of thrilling competitive eating for fans around the globe.

This Fourth of July, while New Yorkers celebrate with traditional festivities, all eyes will be on Coney Island to see who will rise to the challenge and claim the coveted title in the absence of the reigning champion.