ESPN has reached an agreement with Major League Eating, in conjunction with Nathan’s Famous, Inc., that provides the network exclusive rights to televise a live, one-hour show of the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest each year through 2017.
The agreement is a five-year extension of an existing contract between the entities. The event consistently generates powerful ratings and has become a holiday viewing tradition for millions of Americans. Last year’s July 4th telecast set a viewership record with 1.95 million live viewers and nearly nine million viewers total on July 4, including two re-airs.
This year’s event will be televised live on ESPN on Wednesday, July 4, at 3 p.m. ET, following ESPN’s exclusive live coverage of the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals. The show will include in-depth analysis of the eating competition by motorsports broadcaster Paul Page and Major League Eating’s Richard Shea, with reporting by television host Renee Herlocker. The one-hour telecast will also include coverage of the Women’s Championship, live from Coney Island. This year will be the ninth consecutive year ESPN has televised the event.
George Shea, MLE chairman, will host the stage show for the historic contest, which has been held in Coney Island, NY, for decades and attracts top eating talent from around the world. The current world hot dog eating record is held by Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., who consumed 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes and who will seek his sixth straight title this year. The 100-pound eating phenom Sonya Thomas, who consumed 40 hot dogs and buns last year, will defend her title as female eating champion of the world.
“This telecast has always been a huge success for ESPN and so we are thrilled to continue our long-standing relationship with MLE and Nathan’s Famous serving fans this annual holiday treat,” said Jason Bernstein, Sr. Director, Programming & Acquisitions, ESPN. “We’ve never had a bigger appetite for this annual world championship event.”
“The Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has become a critical part of the July 4 holiday in America and beyond,” said David Baer of MLE. “It is an honor for MLE and Nathan’s Famous to be associated with ESPN and the quality programming it produces.”
The 10-minute, all-you-can-eat contest will take place at the corners of Surf and Stillwell avenues near Coney Island’s historic boardwalk. More than twenty-five eating athletes from around the world will compete for the respective Men’s and Women’s July 4th Hot Dog Eating World Championship Belts.
In addition to the ESPN telecast, the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest will also be available on ESPN3, streaming live on WatchESPN, and will re-air at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2.