July 4, 2014
Every Fourth of July at the Nathan’s Famous flagship restaurant in Coney Island, Brooklyn has been a picturesque sunny day- perfect for beaches, barbecues and fireworks. This year, with Hurricane Arthur pushing up the east coast, heavy rains were threatening holiday celebrations from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod... It seemed like the Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest would be a complete washout.
The Coney Island crowd proved that it was going to take a lot more than rain to keep them at home – with umbrellas at the ready and ESPN correspondents armed with rain slickers (instead of their usual sun block) the event went forward with the same energy and spirit it always has.
Four-time female champion, Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, lost her title to newcomer Miki Sudo, who downed 34 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Thomas only narrowly claimed second place over Michelle Lesco (27.75 hot dogs and buns to 27 hot dogs and buns).
Following the women’s championship, Joey Chestnut wowed both fans and his girlfriend, Neslie Ricasa, by popping the question on stage prior to competing.
Joey then went on to fight off a prodigious challenge by Matt Stonie, who led Chestnut for the first half of the contest. Chestnut drew even with Stonie in the second half and then put on a last-minute effort to secure victory, 61 to 56.
The Nathan’s Famous experience fan zone was packed with interactive games, novelties, even the No. 43 Nathan’s Famous Car! Media coverage was extraordinary, and ESPN ratings were the best in history - coming in at the 5th most watched telecast of the year for the network. The Contest has consistently attracted more than 1 million viewers for 9 consecutive years!
The American spirit and the Fourth of July cannot be dampened, even by heavy rain. We will see you next year on the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island, rain or shine!