3 States Approve Hot Dog Eating Contest Betting, a First for Legal U.S. Books
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images. Pictured: Joey Chestnut
For the first time ever, bettors can legally wager on the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4.
"ESPN had already affirmed us as a sport in the early 2000s," said Rich Shea, president of Major League Eating, which puts on the event. "But, with legal betting, we are really now as legitimate as the NFL and the NBA."
The event, which will not happen at its traditional location at the Nathan's in Coney Island, will take place at an undisclosed location with social distancing measures in place.
Unlike previous competitions, which have featured between 15-20 men and women, this year's competition will include five women and six men.
Because of travel restrictions into New York, three eaters won't make the competition, including Matt Stonie, the third ranked eater in the world and the only man to have beaten Joey Chestnut (2015). Stonie and Chestnut live in California, but Major League Eating had the foresight to fly in Chestnut more than a week ago before New York imposed significant restrictions.
Any sportsbook in the three states can offer gambling on the hot dog eating contest, but one sportsbook, DraftKings, has a leg up. The company partnered with Major League Eating to be an official partner, which includes a $25,000 free to play contest in non-betting states.
"The Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest is an iconic U.S. tradition that personifies American competition," said Ezra Kucharz, DraftKings chief of business, in a statement. "We are proud to have partnered with Major League Eating to offer people everywhere the opportunity to engage with such a classic event.
DraftKings has made Joey Chestnut, who has won 12 out of the last 13 contests, a prohibitive -800 favorite ($800 wins $100). Miki Sudo, who has won the last six women's competitions, is a -500 favorite.
If anyone can beat Chestnut, who ate a record 71 hot dogs and buns last year, it's either Darron Breedon or Geoffrey Esper, the two closest men last year, who ate 50 and 47 hot dogs and buns, respectively.
"There are a lot of factors at play," Shea said. "Our eaters are usually in midseason form. They're gonna be rusty. Plus you have the fact that social distancing and fewer contestants will give eaters more room, you have air conditioning instead of the 100 degree heat and you have no crowd."