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Rules for 2021 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

We take a look at the rules for the 2021 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating contest taking place on the 4th of July.

Joey Chestnut and Michelle Lesco preview the 2021 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

It’s not all about shoving salted meat down your gullet.

The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is governed by the rules from Major League Eating, which doubles as both the governing body and promoter of the sport. Whether it’s pepperoni rolls or tamales or even DraftKings Candy Bowl, MLE is out there promoting competitive eating at the highest levels.

But each individual competitor develops a technique for each food, and sometimes that technique is as important as how much food a person can handle. But those techniques need to be within the bounds of the rules set forth below.

Though the contest used to be 12 minutes long, it was shifted to 10 minutes in 2008, which also the last year of a five hot dog “eat-off” if two competitors are tied. Joey Chestnut won that eat-off over Takeru Kobayashi, the champion each year from 2001 to 2006.

Here are the rules for the 2021 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

  • Each contestant has 10 minutes to consume the as many hot dogs and buns of uniform weight and size that they can
  • Contestants provided one plate at a time — each with five hot dogs and buns
  • Ketchup and mustard provided, not mandatory
  • Water provided by event officials, competitors can bring their own non-alcoholic beverages and will be provided a max of 13 cups
  • Competitors can dunk hot dog and bun in cups for no longer than five seconds
  • Hot dog and bun can be separated, can be broken in parts, but if only a portion of the hot dog is eaten, they must eat an equal part of the bun and vice versa
  • No utensils allowed
  • Contestant to finish the most hot dogs in a 10 minute span is deemed the winner