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9 unbelievable eating contests

By: Josh Lew on July 3, 2014, 2:21 p.m.
Joey Chestnut (center) and Takeru Kobayashi (right)

Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

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Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

This is the New York event that started the competitive eating renaissance. Two of the most well-known competitive eaters, Joey Chestnut and 130-pound Takeru Kobayashi, first gained fame for winning at Nathan's.

The contest is held on the Fourth of July each year in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, and its roots are said to go back all the way to 1916, when Nathan's was a newly opened hot dog stand. The contest first gained headlines worldwide in 2001, when Kobayashi ate an astonishing 50 hot dogs (and buns) in 10 minutes. That was double the previous record. In 2013, Joey Chestnut smashed the record, eating 69 hot dogs and buns. Since 2011, a women's contest also has been held, and for the past 10 years, TV coverage has been provided by ESPN. This year, a qualification circuit is being held to choose the amateur eaters who will challenge Chestnut and other “professionals.”