It's the Fourth of July. AMERICA'S BIRTHDAY. And although there are no true wrong ways to celebrate it, because this is America and we're about freedom, there are definitely a few right ways to celebrate it: fireworks, excessive alcohol consumption, and either eating or watching other people eat encased meats en masse. That is to say, hot dogs.
Yes, today is the 38th annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, held as always outside the original Nathan's Famous store in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Joey Chestnut is the overwhelming favorite to win his seventh straight belt, which would break a record set by Takeru Kobayashi.
If you don't live in Brooklyn, or, like me, you do live in Brooklyn but are like two hours away from Coney Island via subway, it will be broadcast live: the women's contest begins at 11:25 Eastern on ESPN3, and the men's competition begins at noon Eastern on ESPN2 and ESPN3.
HERE'S 1,776 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH.
1. Joey Chestnut is a true American hero.
Weighing in at 218 pounds, Chestnut was just a regular engineering student at San Jose State when he realized he had a talent: shoving crap down his throat. He deseated Kobayashi as the winner of the competition in 2007, returning eating pride to America, where it rightfully belongs. The next year, they'd tie, and Chestnut would win in an eat-off. In 2010, Kobayashi held out due to a dispute with the event organizers, assuming nobody would watch without his star power and the promise of a showdown. He was wrong. We will watch Joey Chestnut eat things, because he is a patriot.
2. Joey Chestnut is fighting against himself/destiny, rather than the competition.
The question might not be so much whether Chestnut can win, but whether he can beat himself. Bovada set odds for the contest, with Chestnut the overwhelming 1/10 favorite to win, meaning bettors would have to put down $1,000 on Chestnut to win back $100. (The field of competitors is +600.) But he will try to break his personal best, set last year by downing 68 dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Bovada isn't overly optimistic on that front, setting the over/under for Chestnut at 63.5, well off his best mark.
3. There is also a women's competition, and Sonya Thomas is pretty impressive too.
Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas has won both women's competitions since the organizers decided women's competitions needed to exist. Thomas could hold her own against men, despite being 98 POUNDS, but probably wasn't going to knock off Chestnut. She's the major favorite to hold onto the pink belt after downing 45 hot dogs last year. (That's, like, .5 hot dogs per pound of body weight.)
4. Random fat dudes getting their moment in the spot light before a much thinner dude eats way more than them.
It might not be much of a competition, but at least the competitors enter the ring to Michael Buffer-esque ring intros with music, fanfare, and the raucous support of a crowd of thousands. It's quite the spectacle, and you should watch:
The Nathan's website boasts that this is the first year that featured a countrywide tour to qualify potential competitors, of which there are generally around 20.