UPDATED: FRIDAY, OCT. 2; 7:48 a.m.
Unfortunately, the Richard Petty Q&A has been canceled.
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Nathan’s Famous has announced that the official 2016 qualifying tour for the annual Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest will kick off in Dover, Delaware, at Dover International Speedway on October 4th.
The official qualifying event, which is among more than a dozen contests that will be held in cities across the United States prior to the July 4 contest, will take place at 12:30 P.M. at The Grove adjacent to Victory Plaza at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware.
Also in Victory Plaza, just before the contest, Richard Petty, the seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, will participate in a question-and-answer session with fans. That event begins at 12:15 P.M.
The event will feature top-ranked eaters, including “The Lovely” Juliet Lee, a jellied cranberry sauce-eating expert and the ninth-ranked eater in the world, and Brian “Dud Light” Dudzinski, a corned beef sandwich and pepperoni roll veteran.
The top male and top female finishers will earn a spot to compete in the finals at the original Nathan’s Famous in Brooklyn, NY. In recent years, an estimated 35,000 fans have traveled to the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island on July 4 to watch the contest in person. The ESPN live telecast of the event has achieved top ratings, attracting millions of viewers each year since it was first aired in 2004.
This past July, Matt Stonie ended Joey Chestnut’s eight-year reign by eating 62 hot dogs, narrowly beating out Chestnut’s 60. (Chestnut still holds the world record for eating 69 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes.) In the women’s competition, Miki Sudo consumed 38 Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes, successfully defending her title from Sonya Thomas, who consumed 31. (Thomas retains the women’s record of 45.)
According to archives, the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has occurred each July 4th in Coney Island, NY since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant. Major League Eating, the governing body of all stomach-centric sport, sanctions the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Circuit and ensures the contests are judged professionally and that safety standards are in place at each event.
Those interested in competing in the qualifier should visits www.majorleagueeating.com to obtain information and register. All competitors must be over 18 years of age.