Nathan's Famous Adds Women's Division to July 4th Contest


Two Contests Will Occur at the Famed Corner of Surf & Stillwell Aves in Coney Island

As Nathanís Famous, Inc. readies for its 96th annual July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest, the company has announced that it will give female competitors a shot at their own Championship Belt in what will be the first-ever womenís-only contest set to occur just prior to the menís contest, mid-day on July 4th.

The celebrated Nathanís Famous qualifying circuit, a tour that visits more than a dozen cities over three months and qualifies a July Fourth competitor in each, will continue as planned. This year, however, the top finishing female competitor from each qualifier will win a chance to compete at the finals in Coney Island.

ďEach year we see more and more women entering our qualifying events in the hopes of making it to Coney Island,Ē said Wayne Norbitz, president and COO of Nathanís Famous, Inc. ďWe surely have had some impressive female eaters compete on July 4th, so weíre introducing this new round to give female competitors the notoriety they deserve.Ē

Along with notoriety, there will also be a $5,000 cash purse on the line. The lady most favored to become the first womenís champion is Sonya ďThe Black WidowĒ Thomas. Ranked number four in the world by Major League Eating, Sonya is a resident of Alexandria, VA. She has beaten male eaters in foods ranging from oysters to hard boiled eggs, but her personal best of 41 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes has not been enough to take down such top males as Pat Bertoletti and four-time world champion Joey Chestnut.

ďLeading sports organizations including the NCAA, USTA and professional golf have long had separate championships for men and women,Ē said George Shea, chairman of Major League Eating. ďSonya Thomas has been called the Michelle Wie of Brie and the Mia Hamm of Ham, but sheís never been called Nathanís Famous July Fourth Champion. Perhaps this is the year she secures that title.Ē

Eaters expected to give Sonya a run for her money this year are Juliet Lee, a cranberry sauce eating champion from Maryland, and Larell Marie Mele, a personal trainer from Pennsylvania who entered the scene in 2010 and registered an impressive rookie year.

The Nathanís Famous qualifying circuit will visit cities across the United States and also make stops in Canada and China. The male and female champions from each qualifier will earn a trip to compete in the ESPN televised finals at the original Nathanís Famous in Coney Island on July Fourth, provided they eat no fewer than 10 hot dogs in competition.

In recent years, an estimated 40,000 fans have made the pilgrimage to the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island to watch the Nathanís Famous July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest in person. The live ESPN telecast of the event drew an audience of 1.7 million viewers in 2010. Joey Chestnut of San Jose, CA holds the world record for eating 68 Nathanís Famous Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes, and he will seek his fifth straight title this year.

Host cities of the 2011 Nathanís Famous Hot Dog Eating Circuit include Las Vegas, NV, Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, Atlantic City, NJ, Cleveland, OH, Tempe, AZ, New York, NY, Pittsburgh, PA, Los Angeles, CA, Charlotte, NC and Poughkeepsie, NY. This year, Nathanís will also hold a qualifying event in Calgary, Canada and Beijing, China.

According to archives, the Nathanís Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest has occurred each July 4th in Coney Island, NY since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant. Major League Eating, the governing body of all stomach-centric sport, sanctions the Nathanís Famous Hot Dog Eating Circuit and ensures the contests are judged professionally and that safety standards are in place at each event. For more information visit or @eatingcontest.

About Nathanís Famous
Nathanís products are currently distributed in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Cayman Islands and five foreign countries through its restaurant system, foodservice sales programs and retail licensing activities. The Nathanís restaurant system currently consists of 268 units, comprised of 263 franchised or licensed units and five company-owned units (including one seasonal unit). For additional information about Nathanís please visit