Behind famed hot dog contest, a whopper of a legend

NEW YORK (AP) — For decades, the showmen behind the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest on July Fourth have said the tradition dates back to 1916 as a showdown between patriotic immigrants on the Coney Island boardwalk.

That would make this Monday’s contest a centennial of sorts. But the backstory was actually invented by PR men in the 1970s to get the hot dog chain and the gluttonous spectacle on the map.

Former Nathan’s Famous president Wayne Norbitz says the first recorded contest actually happened in 1972.

The chowdown has grown into a sports-like competition with more than 30,000 people attending in person and hundreds of thousands more watching on television.

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