The Fourth of July traditionally calls for watching a baseball game or fireworks with a hot dog in hand (or three). But even if you tend to overeat on all-American dishes on this food-centric holiday, your over-indulgence is probably nothing compared to the food an elite group of athletes will be gorging themselves on — and the money they’ll be earning — competing in Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4.
This annual eating competition, staged at Coney Island in New York City, is a bona fide sporting event (participants are even referred to as athletes). It’s a true nationally-televised contest of intestinal fortitude between the world’s bravest and best competitive eaters. On Saturday afternoon, the competitors will race against the clock to down as many hot dogs as they can within 10 minutes and get a chance at a piece of the total $40,000 purse payout.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest Prize Money
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is as historic as the company itself. Started in 1916, the 2015 contest marks the 99th time that fans and contestants alike have gathered from across the world (and aspiring contestants) to watch this amazing feat of hot dog consumption; in recent years, according to the Nathan’s Famous website, the event has attracted up to 35,000 spectators.
Not just anyone can enter the eating contest, however. Contestants were required to participate in one of 13 qualifying events held from April to June in various cities across the U.S. to earn a chance at the championship on July 4 — and the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest prize money.
The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Prizes and Purse Payouts
Sam Barclay of Major League Eating (MLE) and emcee of the July 4 event told GOBankingRates that the total Nathan’s hot dog contest prize money in 2015 will be $40,000. This amount is to be split in half with $20,000 going to main event winners and $20,000 to the female champions. Among those two groups, the $20,000 is broken down five ways according to where competitors place:
- First place: $10,000
- Second place: $5,000
- Third place: $2,500
- Fourth place: $1,500
- Fifth place: $1,000
Barclay said the winner will eat the highest amount of hot dogs and corresponding buns together — no cheating or separating of ingredients allowed. It’s an MLE League rule that’s also followed in another professional competitive eating organization, the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters. “AICE contests feature ‘picnic-style’ rules, which require food to be eaten as it’s normally presented with no mashing, dunking in water or other mutilation,” according to ABC News.
Hot Dog Eating Contest: Event Details
- What: The 2015 Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest
- When: Saturday, July 4, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Where: Nathan’s Famous flagship restaurant, Surf and Stillwell Avenues, Brooklyn, NY
A women’s hot dog eating contest is scheduled first and will begin at 11 a.m. EST, with the main event to follow at 12:30 p.m. Fans can watch the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on TV, with the women’s contest airing ESPN3 at 11 a.m. and the main event on ESPN2 at 12 p.m.
According to the MLE website, event entertainment will include performances by a brass band, a bagpipe-and-drum duo from Scotland and a K-Pop choreography showcase. And as it does every year, Nathan’s Famous will also donate 100,000 of its hot dogs to the Food Bank for New York City.
How Competitive Eaters Can Earn Millions
Despite the high health risks of competitive eating, the payoffs aren’t’ great. Competitive eating might get you a full belly, but it’s unlikely to fatten competitors’ wallets, reports PBS. Only a handful of stars in the sport have managed to get big paydays for eating contests.
Those top competitive eaters, however, are earning big dollars as easily as they set world records. Competitive eaters like L.A. Beast, Chuck from the Bronx and the Wreckless Eating crew are quickly becoming household names across YouTube for their eating challenges, but the biggest names tend to be at the forefront of the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Takeru Kobayashi net worth: $1 million
Takeru Kobayashi, 36, has a net worth of $1 million amassed from more than 15 years of dominating the world of competitive eating. In 2009 Kobayashi broke a Krystal Square Off record by eating 93 hamburgers, according to CelebrityNetWorth, and in 2012 he set a world record for consuming the most grilled cheese sandwiches in one sitting: 13 in one minute. From 2001 to 2006, Kobayashi was the leading male champ at the Nathan’s Famous contest before getting out-eaten by Joey Chestnut.
Joey Chestnut net worth: $800,000
Joey Chestnut, the reigning Nathan’s Famous champ, also has an impressive net worth of $800,000. Chestnut started his competitive eating career by downing nearly six-and-a-half pounds of fried asparagus in a 2005 eating contest, according to CelebrityNetWorth. Chestnut has been the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating champ for the past eight years and set the current Nathan’s hot dog eating contest record in 2013 when he finished 69 hot dogs in under 10 minutes.
Women have also made their mark on the competitive eating front. Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas is arguably the most famous female in the sport and has been a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest competitor for more than 15 years. Thomas set a 2012 Nathan’s Famous Women’s Hot Dog Eating Contest record by eating 45 hot dogs. This year, Thomas will seek to regain the title from Miki Sudo, who upset long-time champ Thomas in 2014’s hot dog eating contest.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest 2015: Prize Money and Purse Payout Details