Competitive eaters Joey “Jaws” Chestnut and Miki Sudo have once again gorged themselves with the most hot dogs and buns to come out on top in the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest.
In the early afternoon on the Fourth of July, Chestnut gobbled 72 HDBs (hot dogs and buns), and Sudo devoured 41 HDBs in a mere 10 minutes — more than most people could stomach in a week.
For more than 100 years, men and women have purposefully gorged themselves with the original Coney Island frankfurter to obtain fame, fortune and seriously full bellies. As in years past, the 2017 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest took place on the Fourth of July — a little more than two weeks before National Hot Dog Day on July 19 — at Nathan’s Famous flagship restaurant on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The contest is governed by Major League Eating (MLE), an organization that oversees professional eating contests.
“The atmosphere at the July 4 contest is a combination festival, rock concert and sports event,” said George Shea, MLE CEO and host and announcer of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. “July 4 is the best day of the summer, and Nathan’s in Coney Island is the best place to be.”
Take a break from your barbecue to learn more about the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Prize Money and Purse Payouts
Legend has it that the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest began in 1916 as a way for four immigrant men to determine who among them was the most patriotic. The winner was Jim Mullen, who ate 13 hot dogs, according to Shea. Today, the annual eating contest attracts some 30,000 fans and millions of television viewers, according to Major League Eating (MLE).
The MLE began paying cash prizes to top finishers in 2007. In 2017, the total prize money is $40,000, with $20,000 going to male winners and $20,000 going to female winners. Among those two groups, the $20,000 is broken down five ways according to where competitors place:
- First place: $10,000
- Second place: $5,000
- Third place: $2,500
- Fourth place: $1,500
- Fifth place: $1,000
Additionally, the men’s champion is awarded a bejeweled mustard-colored belt, and the women’s champion is awarded a bejeweled pink belt.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Favorites
Not just anyone can enter this eating contest. Contestants must compete in one of at least 10 qualifying events held from March to June in various cities across the U.S. to earn a chance at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest prize money. According to Shea, some 350 competed in qualifying events in an attempt to earn a seat in the Coney Island competition on July 4, 2017.
A handful of eaters have dominated the Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest in recent years.
Joey Chestnut Net Worth: $800,000
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut ate 72 HDBs to win the 2017 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, defeating Carmen Cincotti (60 HDBs) and Matt Stonie (48 HDBs). This is Chestnut’s second consecutive win. He has won the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest 10 times overall.
According to Shea, both Cincotti and Stonie had the potential to defeat Chestnut this year, though he said Chestnut was “likely to win.”
In 2016, Chestnut ate 70 HDBs to reclaim the Nathan’s title from Stonie. According to the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs website, he holds a total of 43 eating records, including the world’s hot dogs eating record: 73.5 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.
Joey Chestnut’s net worth is $800,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Takeru Kobayashi Net Worth: $3 Million
Takeru “The Prince” Kobayashi changed competitive hot dog eating forever when he guzzled 50 hot dogs in 2001 — double the number the previous year’s winner had eaten. Before Kobayashi, eaters would consume the hot dogs dry. After Kobayashi, they dunked the buns in water for extra lubrication.
Kobayashi won six consecutive Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contests (2001-2006) before he was overthrown by Joey Chestnut in 2007. He tied with Chestnut by eating 59 hot dogs in 2008, but was declared the second-place winner after Chestnut was the first to finish a plate of five dogs in overtime.
Contract disputes led to a falling out between Kobayashi and the MLE in 2010. He did not compete in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest that year, though he did storm the stage. According to the Huffington Post, he was arrested at the event.
“The Prince” is not associated with the MLE today and did not compete in the 2017 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Takeru Kobayashi’s net worth is $3 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Miki Sudo Net Worth: Unknown
In 2017, Competitive Eater Miki Sudo ate 41 HDBs to win her fourth-consecutive women’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Michelle Lesco came in second with 32.5 HDBs, and Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas came in third with 30 HDBs.
Shea predicted Sudo’s victory in the days leading up the contest, saying she was “very likely to win.” In 2016, Sudo ate 38.5 HDBs, her previous contest-high.
According to the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs website, Sudo is the only elite eater without a nickname.
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Matt Stonie Net Worth: $500,000
Ranked No. 2 by MLE, Matt “Megatoad” Stonie won the 2015 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Stonie devoured 62 hot dogs that year, two more than Chestnut. Like Takeru Kobayashi, the Japanese competitive eater who helped attract fans to the Nathan’s contest, Stonie is small in stature. According to MLE, he weighs just 130 pounds. Matt Stonie’s net worth is $500,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Sonya Thomas Net Worth: Unknown
Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas won the inaugural women’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2011. She followed that victory up with victories in 2012 and 2013. She was defeated by Miki Sudo in 2014.
Translating Eating Contests Into Wealth
It’s certainly an unusual way to make money, but competitive eating can pay well. Like the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, many eating contests offer cash prizes.
Joey Chestnut, for example, has won nearly $560,000 in the last 12 years from competitive eating, according to Eat Feats, an online competitive eating news resource and database. The Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest is his biggest payday. Other recent lucrative purses include the 2016 Hooters World Wing Eating Championship ($8,500) — where he ate 194 wings in 10 minutes — and the 2014 Foxwoods World Turkey-Eating Championship ($5,000) — where he consumed 9.35 pounds of turkey in 10 minutes.
Much newer to professional competitive eating are Miki Sudo and Matt Stonie. Sudo has earned more $100,000 in prize money since 2011. Her most recent first-place prize was the 2016 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest; however, she pulled in $1,250 on May 27 for her second-place finish at the West Virginia Three Rivers Festival Pepperoni Roll Eating World Championship.
Stonie has pulled in just less than $140,000 since 2009. On June 4, he came in second at The Baked Bear World Ice-Cream Sandwich Eating Championship. He consumed 25.25 chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream sandwiches in six minutes, which was the same amount as Joey Chestnut. Stonie lost in a one-cookie eat-off to take home $1,000.
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