ESPN Preps for Nathan's Event

No utensils will be necessary and no condiments allowed during ESPNís inaugural telecast of the 2004 Nathanís Hot Dog Eating Contest live from Coney Island, N.Y., Sunday at 12 p.m. ET.

The one-hour special will be hosted by ESPNís Gary Miller, who will be joined by George Shea and Richard Shea of the International Federation of Competitive Eating and sports business reporter Darren Rovell, who has covered the event for ESPNís SportsCenter and for the past two years.

ESPNís telecast will feature a 40-minute pre-game segment highlighting the history of the event and outlining the rules of the competition, leading in to the 12-minute, all-you-can-eat contest. The event will showcase 20 eating competitors (13 from the United States, two from Japan, and one each from England, New Zealand, Germany, and Canada), including Japanís Takeru Kobayashi, who holds the current world hot dog-eating record, consuming 50 Ĺ hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes in 2001.

ďFrom the Stanley Cup Finals to the National Spelling Bee, every ESPN-televised event shares a common link Ė a competitive core,Ē said Julie Sobieski, ESPN Director of Programming. ďThe Nathanís Hot Dog Eating Contest will add a little mustard to our wide programming variety by showcasing a fun, historical competition featuring amazing individual performances.Ē

ďWe view this as a significant step forward for competitive eating and we hope it will help build momentum for our effort to secure a place in the Olympics,Ē said David Baer, director of global expansion for the IFOCE.

The Nathanís Hot Dog Eating Contest is held each year on July 4 at the original Nathanís Famous location at Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island, N.Y. ESPNís live coverage will also be shown on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square from 12-1 p.m.

Log on to for photos from last yearís competition.

ESPN televises a wide variety of sporting events and competitions including poker, scrabble, chess and table tennis, among others. ESPN also televises the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Mathcounts National Competition, Firefighters' Combat Challenge, National SWAT Challenge, Best Ranger Challenge, School Bus Demolition Derby and Lawn Mower Racing competitions.

Media Contacts:
Nate Smeltz, ESPN (860) 766-4550