On July 4, 2006 all eyes will turn to Coney Island, New York as ESPN camera crews will be on hand to provide live feed of the 91st annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest. This event, which is sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, features 20 contestants attempting to consume as many hot dogs, with buns, as possible in a twelve minute span. The winner of this prestigious event walks away from the competition with a Coveted Mustard Yellow International Belt as well as the admiration of all the fans who gather at the corner of Surf Avenue and Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, New York to watch the competition in person and those who gather around television sets worldwide to watch the live feed from ESPN.

The 20 contestants in this competition must qualify for the opportunity to participate in this prestigious event. Regional qualifying events begin on April 15th and will continue through July 27th. At these regional qualifying events, the contestant hopefuls have twelve minutes to prove to the judges that they have what it takes to have a legitimate shot at the title. If you think you are up to the competition, visit Nathan’s Famous’ website for more information at the following web address: The qualifying contests will participate in an official weigh in supervised by Mayor Bloomberg on July 3, 2006.

If you think size is everything in this competition, you are wrong. Takeru Kobayashi of Japan weighs in at a willowy 144 pounds and is the five time champion. Kobayashi is also the current world record holder having consumed 53.5 hot dogs and buns at the 2004 competition. He will be attendance at the 2006 event looking to defend his title for an unprecedented 6th win at the event. Kobayashi is expected to have some tough competition from fellow lightweights in the competition. 100 pound Sonya Thomas and 135 pound Rich LeFevre are two of the top eaters who are favored to give Kobayashi a run for his money. At last year’s competition Thomas set a new American world record by consuming 42 complete hot dogs and buns.

There are some heavyweights who will be in attendance and making a serious run for the title. Joey Chestnut stands at 6’6” and weighs in at 230 pounds. At the Las Vegas qualifier on May 18, 2006, Chestnut not only qualified for the event but bested Thomas’ American record by 8 complete hot dogs and buns in the process. Chestnut consumed 50 hot dogs and buns in the twelve minute trial at the qualifying event. Now the new American world record holder has his eyes on besting Kobayashi on July 4, 2006 to walk away with the title. Chestnut will have emotion on his side as he lines up for the July 4th competition. His brother is a member of the National Guard who is stationed in Iraq and Chestnut is vowing to push harder than ever to bring home the title in honor of his brother during this celebration of American independence.

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