8 Things You Didn't Know About Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

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8 Things You Didn't Know About Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
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8 Things You Didn't Know About Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

Read on to discover 8 fascinating facts about Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

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1. The contest is nearly a century old.

The contest has been held every year since 1916, with the exception of two. In 1941 it was canceled in protest of the war, and in 1971 it was canceled as a protest to civil unrest.

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2. Competitors have to qualify.

In order to compete on the Fourth of July, competitive eaters go through a 13-event qualifying circuit throughout the country in the months leading up to the event.

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3. The prize money is big.

The value of prizes for winners of the contest totals $40,000. Yes, you read that correctly! Now you can probably understand where their drive to eat upwards of 60 hot dogs comes from.

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4. Women have their own competition.

There are separate competitions for both men and women. In the female group, Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas is the reigning champ. In 2013, she ate 38 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. She also holds records for eating cheesecake, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, clams and more. (Also, she weighs only 98 pounds.)

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5. Joey Chestnut is hard to beat.

Joey "Jaws" Chestnut has won the contest in the men's group for seven years in a row. In 2013, he set a new world record by eating 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes. That win gave him one more consecutive victory than Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi, whose reign ended in 2007 when Chestnut beat him.

Hot dogs aren't Chestnut's only specialty. He also holds records for eating chicken wings, apple pie, fish tacos, jalapeno poppers, grilled cheese sandwiches and... the list goes on.

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6. That world record was a lot of calories.

According to Bleacher Report, Joey Chestnut's record-breaking victory totaled 20,010 calories, 48,990 mg of sodium and 759 g of protein.

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7. The event is open to the public.

If you want to see the action in real life and can make it to Brooklyn, the contest is totally free and open to the public. Watching men and women scarf hot dogs at warp speed isn't all there is to see either. There are pre-show festivities with a few performances. If you do plan on going, you'll want to get there early—in 2013, an estimated crowd of 40,000 people showed up to see Joey Chestnut win.

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8. A lot of people tune in.

According to Major League Eating, the July 4th contest has higher television ratings than any Major League Baseball game televised on July 4th in the U.S.

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The Fourth of July calls for barbecues, fireworks, and of course, Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. It's been reported that the yearly spectacle has been around since 1916, when Nathan's flagship restaurant on Surf Avenue in Coney Island opened.

Major League Eating sanctions the contest every year. The organization oversees all professional eating contests. While the hot dog eating contest is probably the most well-known, they oversee 80 events annually.

Check out the slideshow above to learn 8 facts you didn't know about the famed Fourth of July event.

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