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article imageNathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest: An American Tradition

By Matthew Moran     Jul 4, 2009 in Lifestyle
When one thinks of American traditions, fireworks, parades, Apple Pie and baseball come to mind. We shouldn't forget, however, that Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest and Joey Chestnut are just as much American traditions as anything.
Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest began in 1916, as legend has it, to settle an argument between four friends about who was the most patriotic.
Nearly every year since, proud patriots have gathered on Coney Island to shovel down buns and dogs, all in an effort to win the famous mustard-yellow belt.
In 2009, Joey Chestnut earned the distinction of being the most patriotic. Chestnut downed 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes to defeat Takeru Kobayhashi. The Japanese native Kobayhashi downed 65 hot dogs.
This year, Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is the pinnacle of a week-long series of events. Last weekend, people from around the country pigged out in regional qualifiers just to have the right to go on to Coney Island.
Friday night, nine humans took on three elephants in the classic man versus beast contest. Needless to say, the elephants won easily.
None of the buildup, however, compares to the face off the world will see today shortly after Noon Eastern Standard Time.
The New York Daily News called it a "frank fight" between six-time-winner Kobayashi and two-time defending champion Chestnut.
"It's going to be a good battle this year," said Kobayashi, 31, through an interpreter, before the contest, as quoted by the Daily News. "I'm going to bring the belt back."
Kobayashi wasn't able to regain the belt though. Chestnut jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
"The first two years, he beat me," Chestnut said. "The next two years, I beat him, so we're even. He's why I push myself so hard."
Kobayashi won the contest from 2000 to 2006. Chestnut has knocked him off the past two years. It took a dramatic "eat-off" after the two tied in 2008.
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