Since 1972, Nathan's Famous has hosted its now-legendary hot dog-eating contest outside its flagship restaurant in Coney Island.
The contest, which airs annually on ESPN, has made household names of contestants like Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi, who down dogs by the many dozen each year. Last year Chestnut won by tallying 75 hot dogs in 10 minutes in the men's division, while Miki Sudo won the women's division with 48.5 hot dogs. (Gotta love the 0.5.)
The 2021 competition will be televised on ESPN this July 4, starting at 11 a.m.,
If, however, you want to get in on some firsthand hot dog-eating experience, Legends in Plantation has you covered. The restaurant is hosting its own hot dog-eating contest on July 3.
Brendan Fonteciella, director of operations for all five Legends locations, says he and his team were brainstorming what they could do to celebrate Independence Day this year.
"We figured there's nothing more Americana than a good, old-fashioned hot dog-eating contest," he tells New Times.
The rules are simple: Contestants get five minutes to eat as many hot dogs as they can swallow. After the buzzer sounds, they get an additional 20 seconds to finish the dog they started. Both hot dog and bun must be consumed in their entirety to be counted — though it doesn't matter if dog and bun are consumed separately.
"However you get it down works for us," Fonteciella explains.
The hot dogs used for the competition are Nathan's "six to one" hot dogs, i.e., about six dogs to the pound.
The person who eats the most hot dogs wins a T-shirt, bragging rights, and "hot dogs for life" at Legends, a perk that translates to one free hot dog per month for the rest of the winner's earthly existence.
According to Fonteciella, about ten people have already signed up. "One person wrote that they're the wiener king," he says. "They're already talking trash."
Anyone can enter by visiting any Legends restaurant or registering online.
Though Fonteciella doesn't expect anyone to threaten Chestnut territory, he's hoping contestants to "get in the double digits."
When pressed, Fonteciella estimates that he could probably get seven or eight hot dogs down — "although it wouldn't be pretty," he confides.
The event is free to enter — and to watch.
"It's going to be held by the bar area, and we're hoping that people come to cheer their favorite eater," says Fonteciella. Spectators can cheer on the contestants with $3 Bud Light pints, $4 New Amsterdam vodka and Sailor Jerry rum drinks, and $5 Legendary Monk house beer.
Beyond providing an Independence Day diversion as the world emerges (fingers crossed) from a pandemic, Fonteciella hopes the Legendary Hot Dog Eating Contest will become an annual tradition.
"I was born and raised in Broward and I don't remember a local hot dog-eating contest," he says. "We're hoping people will find it fun."
Legendary Hot Dog Eating Contest. 2 p.m. Saturday, July 3, at Legends Tavern & Grille. 1387 S. University Dr, Plantation; 954-652-1162; Free to enter and watch. Register at legendstavernandgrille.com.