Men’s Nathan’s Hot Dog-Eating contest goes on after lightning delay

Joey Chestnut says he is ready to eat his way to victory.
Photo by Dean Moses

Lightning forced the stunning delay of the men’s Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog-Eating Contest on Tuesday afternoon — but the frankfurter frenzy is back on. 

The cancellation was reported to be the result of lightning expected to strike in the Coney Island area through Tuesday evening. The men are now competing with a smaller crowd; most early spectators had been sent home due to the weather. 

Thousands had gathered outside Nathan’s flagship restaurant at the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues on Tuesday morning for the annual gorge-fest. The women’s division competed before the storm hit; Miki Sudo won with a reported 39.5 hot dogs and buns eaten.

Then the thunderstorm struck before defending men’s champion Joey Chestnut and a number of competitors could take the stage.

A rain-soaked Joey Chestnut and fellow competitors inside during the lightning delay in the Nathan’s Hot Dog-eating contestPhoto by Dean Moses
Nathan’s hot dog eating contest master of ceremonies George Shea soaked after thunderstorm
Nathan’s Hot Dog-Eating Contest Master of Ceremonies George Shea is soaked after a thunderstorm hit before the men’s division of the 2023 contest.Photo by Dean Moses

This is a developing story; check with amNY.com for further updates.
Below is a story published Monday on the contest weigh-in, written by Dean Moses.

Longtime frank-fest champion Joey Chestnut told amNewYork Metro on Monday that he has recovered from an especially “dark year” — and that he’s ready to eat his way to victory once more during Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4.

One day removed from the big day, Chestnut joined fellow foodie heavyweights in Hudson Yards for the annual competition’s official weigh-in ceremony. Newcomers and veterans of the calorie-consuming contest gathered beneath the Vessel with smiles on their faces and hot dogs in their hands to promote an Independence Day tradition. 

Newcomers look to take the title. Photo by Dean Moses

However, during the proceedings, Chestnut told amNewYork Metro that he was “ready to crack” in 2022 due to a series of tragedies and unfortunate events that culminated in a protest. Last year’s contest saw the champion wrestle a stage invader — hot dog in hand and mouth.

“I probably was nowhere near a record anyway last year,” Chestnut said, solemnly. “I had a broken leg, my mom had just passed away, my dog had died—last June was a terrible year.”

Looking ahead to this year, Chestnut said that dark cloud has evaporated, and that he feels back to his old self, stating he is happy to be happy. 

last June was a terrible year,” Chestnut said, solemnly. Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

“I am feeling a lot better right now. I am going to eat like a madman tomorrow,” Chestnut said Monday. “Mentally, it has been a year of recovery from ring inured and the things going on last year. So when I look back to last year, I remember how miserable I was and I am overcome with happiness that I feel so much better.”

Chestnut is not the only one looking to best his record of 78 hot dogs and buns this year. Women’s champion Miki Sudo is looking to become the first female to chow down on 50 hot dogs and buns, overcoming her record of 48. 

“Last year I was really disappointed with my own number. Let’s send that 40 out of the water, past the person best of 48 and go for 50,” Sudo said.

Miki Sudo. Photo by Dean Moses

This year will mark Sudo’s ninth entry into the Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest — she took a brief break after having her two-year-old son with fellow competitor, Nick Wehry. As a family of competitive eaters, Sudo shared that she tries to keep a positive mindset while on the stage, despite the pressure.

“Mentally what I like to do is anticipate every self-defeating thought that might pop into my head, and it comes in hand in life, too…I’m going to feel like I don’t want to keep going or this is too hard,” Sudo told amNewYork Metro. “When you hear that, that means it’s difficult, good. That means it’s difficult for everybody else and it’s an opportunity for me to really shine, so I think of that mentally and really apply it to eating.”

The 2023 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Championship will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday in Coney Island, at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues.

Fans are excited.Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses