- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Organizers of the annual Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog-Eating Contest announced plans Tuesday to hold the event this summer undeterred by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The long-running competition will take place July 4 in Coney Island like usual, but with modifications in place due to the continuing public health crisis, its organizers said.

Fewer competitive eaters will participate in the contest than previous years, and the event will be held privately rather than in public, its organizers said in a press release.

The event is scheduled to air on ESPN, the press release said, making it among the first major televised competitions to take place since the coronavirus pandemic first started.

It will also involve a donation of 100,000 Nathan’s Famous hot dogs to local food banks and “will be used as a platform to honor essential workers in New York City,” it said.

“2020 has been a year for the history books, and the realization that this storied July 4th tradition would be able to occur, is a great feeling,” Nathan’s senior vice president James Walker said in a statement. “With that being said, our country and our world has endured so much in the last couple of months, that we’d be remiss if we didn’t use this moment to honor those that have done so much for each of us during this time.”

“The Nathan’s Famous contest is synonymous with July 4th, America and the celebration of freedom,” added George Shea, the founder of the International Federation of Competitive Eating. “We are honored to use the contest to highlight the incredible spirit of those who have supported our city and nation through the current challenge.”

Thousands of people usually turn up each year to watch the event, which is normally held outside the original Nathan’s Famous snack shack near the famed Coney Island boardwalk.

But as New York reels from being hit hard by COVID-19, the contagious disease caused by the coronavirus, organizers said this year’s contest will instead take place at a private, unspecified nearby location with added safety measures in place.

In addition to limiting the number of spectators in attendance, the event will also feature a fraction of the number of competitive eaters as usual, according to its organizers. The event will consist of separate male and female competitions like previous years, but each contest will include five eaters instead of the usual 15 “to allow for social distancing,” their press release said.

Defending champions Joey Chestnut and Miko Sudo are among the 10 competitors scheduled to participate, according to the organizers. Mr. Shea indicated on Twitter that Eric “Badlands” Booker, a competitive eater-turned-rap artist, is also slated to perform at the event.

Mr. Chestnut, 36, currently holds the world record for most hot dogs and buns consumed in a 10-minute span: 74. Ms. Sudo’s personal best is 41, four dogs shy of the women’s world record.

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