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How, Exactly, Do You Qualify For Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest?

Hot dogs on a plate
Hot dogs on a plate - Manoli Figetakis/Getty Images

Hot dogs sit alongside such iconic American symbols as the bald eagle, cowboy boots, and the Hollywood sign. They are with Americans during the most patriotic events. Find them in the stands at baseball games, on the grill during Fourth of July cookouts, or in abundance at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. This event takes place on July 4 in Coney Island each year and attracts close to 40,000 fans — plus millions more who watch via the contest's televised broadcast on ESPN. Of all the Major League Eating competitions, Nathan's takes the cake.

Like any respectable contest, participants must compete in a qualifying contest to secure a spot in the main event. There are four qualifying contests hosted by Nathan's that take place during May and June in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; Pleasanton, California; and Washington, D.C. Anyone 18 years or older can pre-register to participate through Major League Eating's website. However, registration is closed for 2024's events. The female and male winners from these contests qualify to compete in the televised contest — officially called "Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest."

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Hot Dog Eating Is A Competitive Sport

Crowd watching hot dog contest
Crowd watching hot dog contest - MNAphotography/Shutterstock

Major League Eating (MLE), the organization that manages competitive eating competitions, and its governing body, the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE), select and approve participants of Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest's qualifying events. MLE doesn't take competitive eating lightly and applies rules and standards to the matches they oversee (with medical personnel on standby). Hot dogs must be presented in plates of five, and each plate must be consumed in full before moving to the next plate. No utensils, condiments, or alcohol are allowed, but participants can bring a beverage of their choice. Rules such as these are to be strictly followed. Otherwise, the eater will face disqualification.

Over the 100-year history of this competition, many contestants have qualified and competed, but among them, two people continue to dominate. Miki Sudo, the winner of the 2023 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, has won the contest a total of nine times and holds the women's world record for the number of hot dogs eaten in 10 minutes: 48.5. Similarly, competitive eater Joey Chestnut has won Nathan's contest 16 times and holds a whopping 55 food-related world records (including one for eating 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes). Those who qualify for Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest will be up against some serious competition as long as Sudo and Chestnut continue to compete.

Read the original article on Mashed.