Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked off the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest with a weigh-in ceremony at City Hall the day before the big event. The mayor, who promoted the binge-eating contest, has been urging New Yorkers to change their dietary habits but said the two things aren't mutually exclusive. NY1’s Zack Fink filed the following report.
Five-time winner Joey Chestnut, weighing in at 220 pounds, will be going for his sixth straight title in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest Wednesday.
Last year, Chestnut consumed 68 hot dogs in one sitting as part of the annual contest.
The champ told NY1 he has been preparing for Wednesday's event.
"It's tough because I have to eat," he said. "The only way you become a competitive eater is by eating a lot. But I also have to make sure I am absolutely empty the day of the contest. So right now I am in the middle of a three-day fast. No solid food, lots of liquid, amino acids, water, fluids, keep my stomach nice and stretched.”
The women's champion, Sonya "the Black Widow" Thomas, consumed a more modest 41 hot dogs. But she is hoping to break that record.
"This year I am going to turn 45. So I am going to try and eat 45," she said. "That is my goal,” Thomas said.
Mayor Bloomberg fully embraced what some might consider to be a slightly indulgent competition. He emceed a publicity stunt weigh-in for the contestants at City Hall.
"Let me be frank. This is one of my favorite traditions," he said. "I relish it so much I insisted City Hall donate the condiments."
The mayor has been trying to change the eating habits of New Yorkers in an effort to fight obesity. He has moved to ban large sugary drinks. And on Monday he expanded a coupon program that will encourage food stamp recipients to buy fruits and vegetables.
He said he saw no discrepancy between his public health kick and promoting a hot dog eating contest.
"I like fast food like everybody else," he said. "It’s great, it tastes great. But if you want to stay and live longer it’s not a good recipe. Having it occasionally is fine. If you want to eat 65 hot dogs in ten minutes, that's even fine. Just don't do it more than once a year and you won't have a problem.”
More than 30,000 spectators are expected to descend on Stillwell and Surf Avenues in Coney Island. The competition starts at noon Wednesday.