Wiener takes all: N.J. can bet on hot dog contest

  • Joined ESPN in 2014
  • Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008

Bettors in New Jersey will have a little more to relish when it comes to the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog-Eating Contest this year.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement on Wednesday told ESPN it has approved betting on the annual eating contest — the first time licensed sportsbooks in any state have been authorized to offer wagering on the contest.

The July 4 tradition, which has a cult following in the betting community, will take place at 12 p.m. ET Saturday (ESPN). Traditionally, the event has been held on the streets of Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s contest is taking place at a private location with COVID-19 safety measures.

Joey Chestnut, who is looking for his 13th title, is an overwhelming favorite to win the men’s competition for a fifth straight year. At DraftKings sportsbook, Chestnut is listed at -1,250 odds — meaning you have to risk $1,250 to net a $100 win — while the field is +650.

DraftKings lists six-time defending champion Miki Sudo as a -850 favorite to win the women’s contest.

Caesars also will offer betting on the contest and will have a price later Wednesday evening.

The contest has been popular with bettors at offshore sportsbooks for years. Offshore bookmakers estimate more than $1 million is wagered on the hot dog contest across the market. U.S. sportsbooks, however, were prohibited by regulators from offering bets on the contest due to integrity concerns.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) authorized wagering on the event this year with certain stipulations. Betting must be halted immediately prior to the start of the event (no live wagering), and bookmakers may only offer odds on events directly tied to competition. Novelty wagers like what color of clothes a contestant will be wearing or what the weather conditions will be are prohibited, according to the DGE.

Chestnut ate 71 dogs and buns in last year’s contest. He owns the record of 74, set in 2018.

“Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated with my insane diet and intense practices when I’m so far ahead of the other competitors,” Chestnut wrote last week in an Instagram post. “Over the years, support from fans and knowing I’m making them happy has become a huge factor, and an advantage no other eater has [except maybe @matt_stonie lol].”

Stonie was the last competitor to beat Chestnut in the contest, downing 62 hot dogs and buns to Chestnut’s 60 in 2015.

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