July 4th Contest Back to 12 Noon Start


Plans to Move Event to 3 pm Reversed Over Crowd Management Needs

Five-Time Champ Joey Chestnut Strives for Most Consecutive Nathan’s Wins

100-Pound Sonya Thomas Defends Women’s Championship Title


Brooklyn, NY, June 26, 2012 – The start of the Nathan’s Famous July 4 International Hot Dog-Eating Contest will return to its original time, 12 Noon, to accommodate the record crowds expected in Coney Island on July 4th to enjoy the beach, boardwalk, contest and Cyclones game.

Organizers of the 2012 Nathan’s Famous contest confirmed today that the 2012 contest will return to its traditional start time with the Women’s Championship at 11:30 a.m. EDT, followed by the Men’s Championship at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 4.

The event, which will occur at the company’s flagship restaurant at Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island, Brooklyn, originally had been slated for 3:00 p.m. EDT this year to accommodate ESPN’s live broadcast of both Wimbledon and the contest. However, an expected crowd of some 40,000 for the contest followed by an early evening Cyclones game required the contest to be moved back to 12 Noon.

ESPN will distribute the event live on ESPN3 at 12 p.m. ET and tape-delay it on ESPN at 3 p.m. ESPN3 will also air the Women’s Championship live at 11:30 p.m., as it did in 2011. ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network is available in 73 million households nationwide and is accessible online at, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to customers of an affiliated service provider.

“Coney Island has not been this hot since lines formed around the block to enter the Steeplechase,” said Major League Eating Chairman George Shea. “It appears that we are entering another golden age for Coney Island.”

"With the amount of interest in this year's event, we thought a second helping of the championship was in order," said Jason Bernstein, ESPN Senior Director of Programming & Acquisitions. "We're happy to add the ESPN3 and ESPN combo platter to the championship menu this year."

The 10-minute, all-you-can-eat contests will feature nearly 30 eaters from the United States and Canada including five-time Nathan’s Famous champ Joey “Jaws” Chestnut of San Jose, CA and the 2011 women’s champion, 100-pound eating sensation Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas of Alexandria, VA. Chestnut and Thomas each hold the men’s and women’s hot dog eating world records with 68 hot dogs and buns and 41 hot dogs and buns, respectively.

The men and women will compete separately for the title of Men’s Hot Dog Eating World Champion and Women’s Hot Dog Eating World Champion, as well as a $20,000 cash purse for each division. More than 40,000 fans come to the free event, arriving several hours in advance. For these fans, Nathan’s Famous produces a pre-show beginning at 10 a.m. that will include a death-defying performance by the Coney Island Strongman and several live bands. Nathan’s Famous will also provide a jumbotron to increase visual access for fans.

Those traveling to Coney Island by subway can take the D, F, N or Q to the Stillwell Avenue terminal.

Up-to-the-minute details are available at and via Twitter @eatingcontest. Information about competitors and the July 4th qualifying circuit can be found at For more information on Nathan’s Famous, visit

The ESPN broadcast of the event will air at 3:00 p.m. ET, immediately following the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s quarterfinals.

WHAT: Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest

WHEN: Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nathan’s Famous Flagship Restaurant
1310 Surf Avenue (at Stillwell Avenue)
Coney Island, Brooklyn

10:00 a.m. Pre-Show Begins
11:30 a.m. Women’s Championship
12:00 p.m. Men’s Championship

About ESPN3
ESPN3 is ESPN's live multi-screen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of global sports events annually and accessible online via, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold level members. It is currently available to 73 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based