Do you have an ironclad stomach? Do you crave wieners? Does your ultimate fourth of July feast include more burgers and dogs than you'd care to admit? If the answer is yes, than perhaps you could be the next world champion in the Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan's Famous on Brooklyn's Coney Island.
On Thursday, March 20, the famed restaurant released it's 13 stop qualifying tour, featuring four new cities this year, in addition to it's premier at NASCAR events, including the annual Speed Street celebration in Charlotte, NC; Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA; and Sonoma Raceway in northern California.
This year's circuit begins on April 26th in Las Vegas and stops at 12 other cities, including its first-ever qualifier at Busch Stadium prior to a St. Louis Cardinals game in May, before the final event takes place on July 4, 2014 at the Nathan's Famous flagship in Coney Island.
The top male and top female finishers from each qualifier will earn a spot to compete in the ESPN-televised finals at the original Nathan's Famous, a holiday tradition since 1916. In recent years, an estimated 40,000 fans have traveled to the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island to watch the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in person. The live telecast of the event has consistently attracted millions of viewers since ESPN first aired the contest in 2004.
Joey Chestnut of San Jose, CA holds the world record for eating 69 Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes in 2013, and he will seek his eighth straight title this year. Sonya Thomas of Alexandria; VA will defend her title as Female Champion; she consumed 36 ¾ Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes last year.
Host cities of the 2014 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Circuit include Las Vegas, NV; Boston, MA; St. Paul, MN; Sonoma, CA; St. Louis, MO; Cleveland, OH; Tunica, MS; Bloomingdale, IL; Savannah, GA; Houston, TX; and Charlotte, NC; Citifield in Queens NY; and at State Fair Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ.
According to archives, the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has occurred each July 4th in Coney Island, NY since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant. Major League Eating, the governing body of all stomach-centric sport, sanctions the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Circuit and ensures the contests are judged professionally and that safety standards are in place at each event.
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