The Strange and Surprising Story of the Coney Island Hotdog Contest

The man who started it all in 1916 nearly died of starvation in Europe

The Coney Island amusement park might be closed, but nothing could stop Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest. Spectators weren’t allowed to watch in person, and competitors were separated by clear barriers. Hotdogs disappeared down competitors’ mouths nonetheless.

Every Fourth of July, the corner of Stillwell and Surf avenues in Brooklyn, New York, is transformed into a media circus, with ESPN broadcasting…