Nathan’s Famous to Hold July 4 Hot Dog Contest With No Fans

The event will take place with no crowd at a private location in Coney Island

Nathan's Famous to Hold July 4 Hot-Dog Contest With No Fans
A wall sign points to the upcoming 2020 Hot Dog Eating Contest. (Alexandra Schuler/Picture Alliance via Getty)
dpa/picture alliance via Getty I
By Evan Bleier / June 16, 2020 10:42 am

For the first time since it was initially recorded in 1972, the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest will not be held at the restaurant’s original stand on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues.

Though the contest will take place, it will be held with no crowd at a private location in Coney Island with pandemic-related modifications, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This year’s event will feature a reduced field of competitive eaters in order to allow for proper social distancing, and the thousands of spectators who traditionally show up for the contest will have to content themselves with watching it on ESPN.

Though the company will miss out on the profits from the 15,000 hot dogs it typically sells to fans during the contest, Nathan’s Famous still feels compelled to hold the event. “It’s a great way to telegraph to the world that things are going to get better,” company senior VP James Walker told The Journal.

With or without fans, Nathan’s Famous should still see plenty of business over Fourth of July weekend as people have been pandemic-buying hot dogs like hotcakes, with some sellers seeing as much as a 100 percent increase in supermarket sales and a 200 percent increase in online orders.

“Usually sales peak starting Fourth of July weekend,” Joe Quinn, a co-owner of hot dog competitor Feltman’s of Coney Island told The New York Times. “So far it’s like March and April have turned into July.”

At last year’s contest, defending champion Joey Chestnut defended his title by eating 71 hot dogs, falling short of the record-setting 74 he ate in 2018. It was the fourth time Chestnut ate more than 70 wieners. On the women’s side, reigning champ Miki Sudo defended her title by scarfing 31 hot dogs, down from the 37 dogs she ate to win in 2018.

Both contestants are expected to compete again this year in the modified contests.

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