Independence Day is a marvelous thing. You get a day off work, an(other) excuse to grill, and possibly the greatest sporting event of the year: Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. This year the culinary combat at Coney Island goes down Monday morning, July 4th, as Nathan's contest celebrates its 100th anniversary. Bun crumbs will fly, condiments will go ignored, a highly advanced alien race will surely visit Earth and immediately turn around, and in the end, two great champions will walk away with $10,000 in prize money, a mustard-yellow champion’s belt, and the most attractive Tinder profile pictures in the country. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.
Because it's worth discussing how we arrived at this nexus of human achievement, we rounded up everything you need to know about Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Nine-times as many people tuned in last year as watched the Wimbledon finals
If you’ve only heard of this in passing, let’s be clear: it’s a national event. The contest itself draws 40,000 people to Nathan’s Coney Island flagship in Brooklyn. It’s been broadcast on ESPN since 2004 and drew 9 million viewers total on July 4th, 2015 (including two re-airs); for comparison, 1.2 million people tuned into ESPN to watch Novak Djokovic win Wimbledon last year. This year the women’s competition begins at 11am EST on ESPN, while the men’s competition starts at 12:30pm EST.