Could you imagine eating 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes? It seems impossible, but Joey Chestnut managed that in 2018 when he won Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Believe it or not, while there are some people out there looking for value in European soccer leagues or Major League Baseball, others will be analysing the odds ahead of the best-known hot dog eating contest.
Bettors can now bet on whether Joey “Jaws” Chestnut will claim his twelfth Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest title and if he (or anyone else) will eclipse his all-time record of 74 hot dogs.
What is Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest started in 1914 and is held every year on July 4. Considered to be the highlight of the competitive eating calendar, millions of viewers tune in to watch the competition. In addition to the kudos that comes with devouring more hot dogs than anyone else, whoever consumes the most wins a hefty chunk of a $40,000 in prize purse.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest betting is obviously a bit of fun, but with some basic knowledge of how the competition works and a quick look at previous results, there could be some value on offer. Joey Chestnut is the clear favourite at 1.112* to win, with the odds for the men’s competition currently favouring the Under 73.5 hot dogs at 1.714* (the Over is priced at 2.200*).
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest format
The International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) states that the winner of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is the contestant that consumes and keeps down (this is an important if rather unpalatable thought) the most hot dogs and buns (HDB) in the allotted time (10 minutes). Drinks are permitted when eating, with water being a popular choice, as are condiments.
A scorekeeper is assigned to each contestant to keep track of each hot dog consumed. Hot dogs that are not consumed in their entirety will count, provided a sufficient amount has been eaten. Hot dogs still in a contestant’s mouth when the time has elapsed will also count if they are then swallowed. Messy eating is punishable by a yellow penalty card, and contestants can be disqualified if they regurgitate.
If the scores are tied after 10 minutes, it goes to a five-hot-dog eat-off to see who can eat the quickest and if the contestants still cannot be split then it will go to a sudden-death eat-off of a single hot dog.
Eat-offs are however a rarity, having only occurred twice in the history of the contest, with the first instance in 1980 and the most recent in 2008 when Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi tied on 59 hot dogs. Chestnut then defeated Kobayashi by being the first to finish his plate of five to win the mustard-yellow belt.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest results
Pinnacle has offered odds on Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest since 2006 and the table below shows the total number of hot dogs eaten by the winner in that time.
*Kobayashi won six straight titles between 2001 and 2006.
As you can see from the table our traders have found it hard to gauge the number of hot dogs eaten, given that the winner has eaten above the Over every year except on two occasions.
The fluctuation in the numbers could be due to the increased expectations of Joey Chestnut over time. It is interesting to note that, despite winning, he massively underperformed in 2010 – the Totals number drastically reduced the following year by 10 hot dogs.
Sharp bettors would have taken into account his prior records all finishing above the 58.5 offered and backed the over at 2.060.
In 2015, Matt Stonie managed to dethrone the eight-year reign of Joey Chestnut by eating 62 hot dogs – well below the 66.5 offered by Pinnacle. Last year, the men’s total hot dogs eaten by the winner market opened at 70.5 with the Over favoured at 1.847 and the Under priced at 1.98.
How to pick your wiener: Is there a value bet?
Joey Chestnut has consumed an average of 65.18 HDB since 2008 (when the 10 minute time period was introduced). He suffered a dip in 2014 and 2015, but has regularly beaten his opponents by 10+ hot dogs.
Given that Chestnut has eaten 70 or more HDB, and bettered his previous effort in each of the last three years, it seems he will be very difficult to beat. When you consider his recent improvements, Over 73.5 HDB also looks achievable.
To see the man himself in action, check out this video of last year’s contest:
Note: Despite a final total showing 64 HDB, Chestnut’s designated counter actually missed a full plate of hot dogs and his official total was a new record of 74 HDB.
Over the years, genuine challengers to Chestnut’s competitive eating crown have been few and far between – Matt Stonie is the only man to come close (his success at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2015 is the only break in Chestnut’s current 12-year reign).
After Stonie narrowly edged out Chestnut, the MLE (Major League Eating) scene changed. Stonie became the youngest but also the top-ranked competitive eater in MLE, demoting Chestnut to second. However, it didn’t take long for Chestnut to reclaim that position and he managed an impressive competition record of 74 HDB last year.
Weighing just 130 pounds, Stonie is a multiple competitive eating record holder, but after a steady decline in his performance since his title-winning 62 HDB effort in 2015 (57 in 2016, 48 in 2017 and then 42 last year) it’s difficult to see him challenger this year.
Another contender who could be considered a genuine threat is Geoffrey Esper. Esper is ranked number three in the competitive eating standings and recently shocked Joey Chestnut at a doughnut-eating contest – Esper ate 235 in six minutes while Chestnut could “only” manage 200.
The problem for anyone look to challenge Chestnut is that he’s been so consistent and recent years and the jump from 50 to 70 HDB seems astronomical.
One way to keep ahead of the market is to keep an eye on the contestants form in other competitions and check their social media accounts for updates. A good example of this is 2017 when Joey Chestnut posted a video online of his preparations (where he put away an impressive 77 hot dogs). That resulted in a fairly hefty line move on the Total.
Pinnacle had the mark set at 68.5 prior to the video being uploaded and it had moved to 72.5 a day after.
It’s not just about the men: Women’s hot dog eating contest
Women have competed in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest since 2011 – Sonya Thomas was the first ever winner and currently holds the record with 45 HDB in 2012.
Thomas won the first three instalments of the women’s event before Miki Sudo triumphed with a total of 34 HDB in 2014. Sudo has consistently improved on her total up until last year – she couldn’t beat her 41 hot dogs from 2017 but still claimed her fifth straight title with a total of 37.
In terms of the outright betting for the women’s competition – much like the men’s – there’s a clear market favourite with Miki Sudo currently 1.100* to win. Bettors can also bet on the total the number of hot dogs eaten by the women’s winner with the mark is currently set at 38.5.
Will we see a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest record?
In competitive eating circles, Joey Chestnut is a superstar. The 6ft, 230-pound California native has dominated Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest for over a decade.
Despite Matt Stonie’s win in 2015, many believe the biggest rivalry in competitive eating is still considered to be Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi. Unfortunately, fans haven’t got to see many contests featuring both as contractual issues and competition controversy means Kobayashi hasn’t competed at the July 4 event since 2010.
There might be challengers but Chestnut is clearly the man to beat. It will be incredibly difficult for anyone to take the mustard belt away from him come July 4. Anyone looking for slightly longer odds might want to look at the chances of Chestnut beating his own record of 74 HDB.
Can “Jaws” do the unthinkable and beat his record again? Is it humanly possible to eat 75 hot dogs in 10 minutes? We’ll have to wait until July 4 to find out.