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Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest returns to Coney Island on July 4

Joey Chestnut wolfed down 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes at last year’s Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, breaking his own world record and defeating the competition by 10 franks.

On Thursday, the competitive eater will once again vie for the title at the annual event, all while attempting to surpass his own score.

“Seventy-five is looking very doable,” Chestnut told amNewYork before he threw out the first pitch at the Mets game on Sunday — though he noted the weather could stymie his efforts.

“I always worry about the weather in New York. You guys have that crazy humidity,” he explained. “The day of the contest, I’ll drink water a little bit early, [but] if I’m dehydrated, I’ll feel like garbage.”

Thursday will mark the California resident’s 15th time competing in Nathan’s Famous’ contest, which draws thousands of spectators to Coney Island each year on July 4.

Chestnut claimed his first victory back in 2007 — his third year competing — when he bested reigning champion Takeru Kobayashi, of Japan, by eating 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

Since then, he has lost only once — to Matt Stonie in 2015. Stonie will be among Chestnut’s challengers in the men’s competition this year.

“A lot of people think that [Chestnut] is going to win again — he’s just such a dominant force — but I think there’s a couple real challengers,” contest host George Shea said on Monday.

On the women’s side, Las Vegas resident Miki Sudo, who won for the fifth time in a row last year by eating 37 hot dogs, will take part again this year.

Competitive eater Sonya Thomas holds the current world record for the women’s competition, having scarfed down 45 Nathan’s hot dogs in 10 minutes during the 2012 contest.

While the annual event has been held since Nathan’s Famous opened on Coney Island in 1916, its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, according to Shea, who has been running the competition since 1991.

Around 35,000 people are expected to flock to Coney Island for this year’s contest, which will kick off at 10 a.m. with music and dance performances, Nathan’s Famous said in a release.

“What we’re doing here would not work for pogo stick jumping, or pillow fighting. It wouldn’t work,” Shea maintained. “There’s something that’s very unique to food — the presence that food has in people’s lives — which is one of the reasons this is compelling.”

“It is a mix of silliness, and comedy, and true emotional drama,” he added. “It’s hard to explain, but it just really works.”

For many attendees, seeing Chestnut compete is one of the main draws, Shea noted.

“He has really come to represent America, in a way, and the Fourth of July, and the feeling you get on the Fourth of July,” Shea said. “He is America. He is freedom. That is how people view him.”

With Scott Fontana

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