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Massachusetts man will duke it out in Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A Massachusetts man will duke it out in Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest on Thursday.

The yearly bun fight, which dates back to 1972, sees large crowds of fans in foam hot-dog hats gather in front of the original Nathan’s Famous restaurant in Coney Island, Brooklyn, to cheer on the competitors as they chow down. The contestants are allowed to dunk the dogs in cups of water to soften them up, creating a stomach-churning spectacle.

The field has shifted this year as Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, the reigning champion of the contest, will not participate in Thursday’s event after signing a deal with a rival brand. He devoured 62 dogs last year.

Instead, Chestnut will take his hot dog-downing talents to an army base in Texas for America’s Independence Day. Chestnut, of Indiana, will compete against soldiers in Fort Bliss, in El Paso, in a 5-minute hot dog eating contest. In 2021, Chestnut set the current record of 76 hot dogs, in 10 minutes.

With Chestnut out, those vying for second place in Brooklyn in the past might have renewed hope to chomp their way to victory this year.

Last year’s second-place winner was Geoffrey Esper from Oxford, Massachusetts, who downed 49 dogs to Chestnut’s 62. Third place went to Australia’s James Webb with 47.

Miki Sudo, of Tampa, Florida, holds the women’s record of 48.5 in 10 minutes. Miki won her ninth title at the Nathan’s Famous contest last year with 39.5 hot dogs and buns eaten.

Contestants hail from 13 states and several countries.

HOW TO WATCH?

If you can’t make it to Coney Island, ESPN will be airing and streaming the competition. Coverage of the women’s competition begins at 10:45 a.m. ET on ESPN3. The men’s competition airs at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2, with re-airs at 5 p.m. ET and 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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