It’s America. The 4th of July. You want to celebrate your nation’s independence from a tyrannical government; but how? Drink Beer? Shoot a gun in the air? Punch an alien in the face while smoking a cigar? The solution for many East coast patriots is to head on down to Coney Island in NYC to witness what has become one of the world’s most popular celebrations of freedom and gluttony: Nathan’s hot dog eating contest.
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is one of the longest running and most viewed competitive eating events around, with professional ‘athletes’ vying for an invitation by competing in regional competitions around the globe.
The challenge is simple - you have 10 minutes to consume as many of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs as possible - and yes, that includes the bun. Entrants are each paired with a scorekeeper who monitors their progress and records every ‘dog downed, whilst keeping an eye out for any unsavoury behaviour. Yellow and red cards can be awarded for messy eating and ‘reversal of fortune’ (that’s throwing up to you and me) with the latter being an offence worthy of disqualification.
Competitors compete for their piece of a tasty $40,000 prize pool, with the wi(e)nners of the men’s and women’s competitions collecting a saucy $10,000 each. That’s a meaty load of dough.
History of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
The origins of Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest are somewhat disputed, with some claiming it goes all the way back to 1916. But controversy aside, it’s public record that there has been an annual contest held at Nathan’s original Coney Island location since 1972.
There’s been plenty of changes to the rules over the years, with the time limit in particular going through a number of iterations (between 3.5 mins to 12 mins), but the basic premise has remained the same.
One rule change that did shake up the field and change the face of the contest in modern times is the requirement for all contestants to sign exclusive contracts with Major League Eating, a world body that oversees all professional eating contests. This resulted in six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi formally retiring in 2009 in protest, ending the long-standing rivalry between him and Joey Chestnut, who has gone on to dominate the competition in recent years.
Hot dog eating techniques
Looking to become the next speed eating champion? Or just looking for techniques to help tuck away another plate at Christmas this year? Learn from the professionals and take your eating game to the next level.
- “The Solomon method” - breaking each hot dog in half, eating the two halves at once, and then eating the bun. (Pioneered by six-time winner Takeru Kobayashi)
- "Dunking" - Probably the most widely used techniques in play. Contestants dunk the buns in water and squash them down, to make them easier to swallow, and slip down the throat smoothly.
- "Carlene Pop" - Competitors jump up and down whilst eating in order to ‘shake’ the food further down, to make room in the stomach for more ‘dogs.
- "Buns & Roses" - A variation on the ‘Carlene Pop’ technique, this time utilising a side-to-side swaying motion to force the ‘dogs down.
- "Juliet-ing" - Cheating by attempting to subtly throw the hot dog buns over your shoulder (to avoid consuming).
When the competition first launched the winners were blue-collar amateurs with very little formal training and technique (besides a healthy appetite and love of hotdogs of course!). As a result, champions tended to vary each year.
It was in the mid-1990s when the rise of highly competitive Japanese entrants started making an impact on the event. Coming in with more professional practices and formal training, they changed the face of the game and helped drive the totals to ever higher limits; culminating in the 2001 record breaking total from Takeru Kobayashi of 50 HDB, almost double any previous total from the last 30+ years.
Since then the men’s competition has been dominated by 4 big names:
Joey Chestnut - 11 wins - 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
Takeru Kobayashi - 6 wins - 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Jay Green - 3 wins - 1988, 1989, 1990a
Mike DeVito - 3 wins - 1990a, 1993, 1994
Joey Chestnut is the biggest name in the competitive eating circuit, topping the MLE rankings fairly consistently for the last 10+ years, and claiming a whopping 11 wins at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Other competitors have been crowned winners in the years not listed above, but pale in comparison to the achievements of those above; most notably in 2015 when a relatively unknown Matt Stonie briefly ended Joey Chestnut’s eight-year winning streak.
The women’s competition launched in 2011, with only two names featuring on Nathan’s Wall of Fame:
Miki Sudo - 5 wins - 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Sonya Thomas - 3 wins - 2011, 2012, 2013
At 5’8’’ and weighing just 125 pounds Miki Sudo is an interesting champion. She entered the competitive eating scene seemingly by accident after winning a sponsored Pho eating contest with her friends in 2011, and discovering a hidden talent for tucking away tasty treats. Since she burst onto the scene she has dominated the women’s competition, unseating three-time champion Sonya Thomas and defending her title every year since then.
2019 hot dog eating betting odds
This year’s odds for bitcoin betting on Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest revolve around the big favourites - Joey Chestnut (1.11) for the men, and Miki Sudo (1.10) for the women.
Both are so heavily favoured that the lines themselves have changed to reflect their chances, offering ‘to win: Yes/No’ markets on both instead of the usual field of candidates. There could be some worth taking the long odds on the ‘No’ option using our low minimum stakes, but barring any surprises this year’s competition should be theirs to lose.
Don’t leave just yet though - we are also offering lines on the total amount of HDB’s consumed for each division, which is where the real value bets can be found.
The men’s winner has averaged 65.3 ‘dogs over the last 10 years, but it’s worth noting that the totals have slowly risen over time, culminating in last year’s world record breaking 74 HDB. This year the over/under market is currently at 73.5 (just 0.5 under the current record) so it essentially comes down to a simple question - will we see another record this year?
Back Under 73.5 at (1.71)
For the women the average is substantially lower at ‘just’ 38.7, and with our over/under sitting at 38.5 it makes for an interesting bet. In Miki Sudo’s last 5 wins she has only gone over 38.5 HDB once in 2017, so the signs point to ‘under’ being the smart bet.
Back Under 38.5 (1.86)
Whatever your appetite for the risks and thrills of hot dog eating, we’ve got you covered. Check out our sportsbook for all the betting lines for Nathan’s Contest - it’s a must eat!