Spangler Subaru Blog

Joey Chestnut was recently crowned the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest champion for the 10th time, consuming a whopping 72 frankfurters, beating his record last year by 2. That is a lot of hot dogs. If you are anything like us, you are probably telling yourself you might eat that many hot dogs over the course of several months, or even a year.

The hot dog eating contest has been running every year on the 4th of July since 1972. How did this tradition start? According to folklore, in 1916 four immigrants were contesting each other to prove their patriotism. They decided to demonstrate this by consuming as many hot dogs as they could in an allotted time, with the victor claiming sole ownership as the most patriotic among the group. Details are scant about the four involved, the rules, or who did claim the patriotic crown, but the legend would carry over throughout the years, eventually evolving to a hot dog eating contest that continues to make national news and impress people all over the United States.

Downing 72 hot dogs, or even competing on the coveted stage, is no easy task. Whereas we may believe if we are hungry enough, those hot dogs may appear like our own personal spa suddenly manifesting in the middle of a desert, but bodies hit fatigue eating just as they do with any type of physical exertion.

There is no one proven method to training before the event. Competitors will develop their own methods and adjust as needed in hopes of claiming the crown. For example, some will meditate beforehand, while others may fast the night before, and still yet others may consume a small breakfast but cut out major eating the week before. What strategy they use also lines up with their technique during the challenge. Several have adopted the method made famous by Takeru Kobayashi who took the hot dog out of the bun, broke it in half, and swallowed both halves and then the bun. More common today, however, is the dunking technique where contestants dunk the bun in order to make it easier to compress and swallow.

But burning off the after effects may prove much more difficult than competing in the contest itself. According to, the average hot dog with bun and ketchup contains about 315 calories. Multiply that by 72 and now your body is chalked full of 22,680 calories. Major athletes consume, at most, half of that per day – Michael Phelps was famously cited at consuming 12,000 calories per day at his peak training intervals. Of course, he had to swim for hours for his body to burn through those, and major athletes already have super-genetics that allow them to perform on levels far above any average individual.

So what kind of work would you need to do in order to burn those off? For our calculations, we took the average height and weight of an adult male (at 5’10” and 180 lbs) and female (at 5’5” and 155 lbs) and found the following results:

Running at a 7 mph pace (8.5 min mile)

-          Male: 24.24 hours

-          Female: 28.15 hours

Swimming at a moderate pace

-          Male: 34.81 hours

-          Female: 40.42 hours

Bicycling at a moderate pace (12-14 mph)

-          Male: 34.81 hours

-          Female: 40.42 hours


-          Male: 46.30 hours

-          Female: 53.76

The workout may be drastic and exhausting, but hey, at least you got to eat 72 hot dogs and have virtually no negative side effects. Plus, each hot dog contains 29 carbohydrates, which your body uses during glycolysis to convert to energy. We are not doctors and we in no way recommend actually doing this, but if you ever feel like going on a 46 hour hike with no breaks, then load that Subaru up with hiking gear and hot dogs and you will be through in no time.


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