1:20 p.m.: IT’S 74 DOGS. Your final standings:
- Joey Chestnut, 74 hot dogs and buns
- Carmen Cincotti, 63 HDB
- Darron Breeden, 43 HDB
DNP: Eater X, due to cowardice. PROVE ME WRONG, TIM JANUS.
1:10 p.m.: As the cornhole wages on, we anxiously await the official results from the MLE. Did Joey Chestnut win dominantly? OR SUPER DOMINANTLY?
1:00 p.m.: Whoa. Turns out the judges on the scene were WAY OFF. ESPN pegs him at 74 dogs, breaking his own world and Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest records in the process. Will it stand? The broadcast is going off the air. There is not streaming option. We’re now forced to watch professional cornhole. WHAT A CLIFFHANGER.
12:57 p.m.: Joey Chestnut cruised to victory and his 11th mustard yellow belt in 12 years, but he failed to break his Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest record. His 64 HDB was 19 more than second-place Carmen Cincotti
12: 52 p.m.: At the halfway point, Joey Chestnut has taken the lead with 38 hot dogs and buns. No one else is within eight HDB. Carmen Cincotti, the world’s No. 2 eater, has barely cracked the top four.
12:48 p.m. Through one minute, Matt Stonie leads with eight dogs. Five other men have eaten at least six. This is the peak of athleticism. Prove me wrong.
12:47 p.m.: Everyone’s out on the stage, most expertly feted by George Shea. WE ARE UNDERWAY WITH THE GREATEST SPECTACLE IN SPORT.
12:38 p.m.: George Shea has taken the stage and our introductions are underway. I cannot recommend watching these enough. Graham is a poet. Notable commentary:
“Competitive eating it the crucible through which greatness is formed, and the evidence lies before us now.”
“The difficulty in his marriage began after he named his children mild, medium, and hot, but he will not let his domestic issues get in the way of the issue at hand.”
“His good cholesterol is low. His bad cholesterol is high. And his BMI is borderline presidential”
“He stands before us like Hercules himself. Albeit a large, bald Hercules at an eating contest.”
“When we are young, we drink our coffee with milk and sugar. And as we age, we drink it with milk only. Then we drink it with black. Then we drink it decaf. Then we die.
Our next eater is at decaf.” - on 74-year-old Rich LeFevre
“If he succeeds here today, we will credit the Tallahassee Two-Hand, a technique so dangerous it was outlawed in the 1930s. He’s bringing it back.”
“He was born on the 4th of July, but to him this day is a vessel of pain...today he will repay one crime with another.”
“When all the world’s languages are poured into a single bowl, the word that unites us will be freedom.” [Ed. note: ...what?]
and, of course, a rap battle with Eric “Badlands” Booker, who was out of breath after walking up exactly 14 steps to the stage.
12:31 p.m.: The focus now shifts to Japanese debutant Max Suzuki, who simultaneously looks both 13 and 93. He claims Kobayashi is his hero and ate 42 hot dogs to qualify for the 2018 event. I am very, very excited by his enthusiasm.
Well, I'm all in on Max Suzuki now pic.twitter.com/tiL01huwtk— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) July 4, 2018
12:25 p.m.: Joey Chestnut: “If I’m going out there to eat hot dogs, I’m not going out there to get third or fourth, I’m going out there to win.”
Well, yes, Joey. That’s the point of a competition. I assumed you knew that.
12:17 p.m.: Time for a puff piece on Carmen Cincotti. It’s fine. We’ve got an hour-long broadcast for a 10-minute event. The Cincottis seem nice. Like they can eat a lot.
Noon: The ESPN2 broadcast is live, and the greatest spectacle in sport is about to begin. The contest itself won’t start for another half hour, but that just gives George Gray more time to hype up this year’s field, which features 20+...well, I don’t like to throw the word “hero” around that often, but...
21 heroes. And not that coward Eater X, who slunk away into retirement rather than face the crowd at Surf and Stillwell one more time and come up short. FACE ME, EATER X. YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID.
11:19 a.m.: Miki Sudo is champion once again, but Sonya Thomas’s 45 HDB record will stand. Sudo kept a furious pace throughout the 10 minute competition to leave a talented field in her dust to claim her fifth-straight Nathan’s title. She ends her day with 36 dogs. Michelle Lesco took home second with an unofficial 27, while Sonya Thomas took third at 26.
The win entitles Sudo another year of calling herself the greatest American alive. God bless.
11:14 a.m.: After five minutes, four-time champion Miki Sudo could be in trouble. She’s in a jousting battle with Michelle Lesco, Juliet Lee, and Sonya Thomas, who are each within three HDBs of the reigning champ.
11:10 a.m.: We’re off, and the men flipping the scorecards behind the women aren’t living up to expectations. One cannot figure out which side of his flipboard is “ones” and which is “tens,” so Sonya Thomas takes a quick, very unofficial lead at 40 hotdogs after one minute (it’s actually four).
11 a.m. In our first three female competitors, we have the superintendent of Montville, NJ public schools and a mother-daughter team. What a time to be alive. UPDATE: The Superintendent is PART of the mother-daughter team. INCREDIBLE TALENT.
Meanwhile, Sarah Reinicke comes out for her introduction by dropping her shorts and showing off some underpants that just say “BIG BUNS” across the back. Awesome. Veterans Juliet Lee and Sonya Thomas follow. While the screen suggests they are a combined 104 years old, they each look approximately 25. Hot dogs are good for you. Lee and Thomas are proof.
10:50 a.m.: The women are set to come out and a bunch of Jersey Shore-looking meatheads are hyping up the crowd at Surf and Stillwell with Super Soakers. Happy 4th of July, y’all.
Before the dogs
The greatest spectacle in sports is upon us. The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is here.
The annual hour-long tribute to athleticism, perseverance, and, uh, gluttony will capture the world’s attention Wednesday afternoon after the World Cup saw it coming up on the schedule and wisely decided to suspend games for July 4 and then July 5 as well to allow fans across the globe a full day to recover from the battle between legends Joey Chestnut, Matt “Megatoad” Stonie, and Carmen Cincotti on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues.
Chestnut, with no exaggeration, is the greatest American athlete to grace the face of the earth. His dominance on his sport’s brightest stage includes 10 of the last 11 titles at Nathan’s, the Super Bowl of the Major League Eating contest. In the last 11 years, LeBron James has only won three NBA titles. Serena Williams only has five Wimbledon championships. The New England Patriots have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy just twice.
But while those overhyped failures have hogged the spotlight too long. Chestnut has toiled away, mastering his craft in relative anonymity after winning back the yellow mustard belt from Takeru Kobayashi and putting the U-S-A back in “hot dog.” Er, “weiner.”
No, wait. “Frankfurters.” Can’t spell “frankfurters” without U-S-A. Nailed it.
Chestnut’s reign has only been challenged by California upstart Stonie, the YouTubing millennial here to challenge the old guard of competitive eating with his livestreams and emojis and hatred of Applebee’s. Stonie claimed the crown in 2015 by downing 62 dogs, enough to light a fire under a complacent Chestnut. The veteran came back strong after the defeat, shattering his own records with 71 hot dogs and buns (HDB) in 2016 and then 72 HDB in 2017 to set a new standard for American accomplishment.
Stonie fell to third last year, supplanted by Cincotti. Can Cincotti, the world’s No. 2 competitive eater, make his name on July 4? Or will America celebrate its independence once again my watching our unofficial president Joey Chestnut wear the mustard yellow belt once more?
How to watch
The annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest will take place on Tuesday at Coney Island in New York City. The contest will be televised on ESPN family networks, starting with the women’s championship followed by the men’s.
Chestnut and Miki Sudo, 2017 winners, will return to defend their hot dog eating title. Chestnut consumed 72 hot dogs in last year’s contest. Chestnut was close to beating his personal and all-time record of 73.5 hot dogs, which is a record he set in 2016.
Sudo, who has won four straight Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, ate 41 hot dogs last year. She was close to beating the all-time record of 45 hot dogs, which is held by Sonya Thomas.
Watch the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
Date: Wednesday, July 4
Location: Nathan’s Famous Corporation, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Time: 10:50 a.m. ET
Time: 12 p.m. ET