Major League Eating Lobbies N.J. Gaming Commission to Allow Hot Dog Contest Wagering

Jul 04, 2019, 08:10 AM EDT
  • The annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest will take place on July 4 at noon ET.
  • The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement decided to not allow its operators to post odds on the event, but in a letter obtained by The Action Network, Major League Eating president Rich Shea has asked the DGE to reconsider.

Major League Eating is not going quietly.

The organization that puts on the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest has written a letter to the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement, imploring it to reverse its decision to not allow legalized betting on the contest.

In the letter, obtained by The Action Network, MLE president Rich Shea says he was “shocked and saddened” to learn that the state ruled that the 10 retail sportsbooks and 14 mobile sportsbooks would not be permitted to offer odds on the contest.

“While other games are played on the Fourth — baseball, tennis and even corn hole — it is safe to say that the hot dog eating contest is the most anticipated sporting event of the day, with the eyes of the world turning to Coney Island at high noon,” Shea wrote, in the letter addressed to David Rebuck, the director of the state’s Department of Gaming Enforcement.

New Jersey did allow operators to bet on the Oscars, something that Shea wrote is “more central to hair and makeup than grit, determination and physical skill.”

“The Fourth of July is the day Americans join together to celebrate our freedoms — our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion, and in New Jerseyans’ case, the freedom to wager on sporting events,” Shea’s note reads. “Fortunately, there are a number of days until the July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest occurs. You have time to right the course and allow wagering on the contest.”

Joey Chestnut, who has won 11 times and ate a record 74 hot dogs and buns last year, would be the prohibitive favorite.

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