Each year, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs hosts hot dog eating competitions around the U.S. to find finalists to compete on Coney Island.
Five hundred hot dogs were made for Charlotte’s competition this year, and it smelled as horrifying as you’d imagine.
A lot like what I imagine it to smell like inside a hot dog costume on a sweltering day, actually.
There were supposed to be ten contestants, but one dropped out.
And the last thing the officials wanted to do was grab a random person off the street, because day drinking at Speedstreet + speed-eating a pile of hot dogs = disaster.
Anything guys can do, girls can, too.
Of the nine contestants, only one was a woman – Elizabeth Petra, from New York City.
But the guys weren’t messing around.
Ronnie Hartman, Damien Boykin, Steven Schuster, Henry Roach, Stephen Smith, Mitch Johnson, Anthony Taddeo and Aaron Weiner all stepped up to the plate(s). Only Aaron and Stephen were from Charlotte – the rest hailed from places like Atlanta and Houston.
This contest is a big deal to competitive hot dog eaters – the winner is flown to Coney Island, all expenses paid, to compete in the final round at Coney Island. Winning also comes with bragging rights and a trophy.
Each contestant got a plate of five hot dogs, a cup of mustard, a squeeze bottle of ketchup and a tall cup of water. And then the games began.
They had 10 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as humanly possible (the record is 69) but all the time in world for their stomachs to be “stretched like Lululemons on a Kardashian” (according to Richard Shea, the ringmaster-like officiant).
It only counted as one if the contestant finished both the hot dog and the bun and every hot dog on the plate had to be finished before they could move on.
The best way to do it? Fold the hot dog in half, shoving it down while simultaneously dipping the bun in water and then swallowing it whole.
Anything left over on hands was shaken off to land where it may. And it landed everywhere. Guys, if you have a beard, be sure to tie it up.
Motivators include listening to music and dancing, Periscoping your experience and remembering that your young son, dressed in a Nathan’s onesie, is watching.
When the 10 minutes were up, scores were tallied. Steven Schuster, from Houston, took home first place with 21.5 total hot dogs for the men and Elizabeth Petra took home first in the women’s division with 6.
Honorable mentions include Ronnie Hartman, in 2nd place with 18.5 hot dogs and Damien Boykin, in 3rd with 16.
And then I decided I can never eat another hot dog so long as I live.