Major craving: Vandalia man returns to face world’s hot dog-eating titans

Reigning champion Joey Chestnut eats two hot dogs at a time during the men's competition of the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, Wednesday, July 4, 2018, in New York's Coney Island. The defending champion broke his own world record by eating 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

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Reigning champion Joey Chestnut eats two hot dogs at a time during the men's competition of the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, Wednesday, July 4, 2018, in New York's Coney Island. The defending champion broke his own world record by eating 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

A local man will take the stage this weekend in one of the most iconic — and calorie-loaded — competitions in the world.

Derek Jacobs of Vandalia, currently ranked No. 13 in the world by Major League Eating, will compete in the 2021 Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog- Eating Contest.

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Taking place at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, the contest is scheduled for this Sunday, July 4 starting at 11 a.m. The 2020 contest was held in a private location at a media-only event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 38-year-old, who is 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 200 lbs., has three Nathan’s Famous competitions already under his belt — 2019 with 27 hot dogs and a 12th place finish, 2018 with 27 hot dogs and a 12th place finish, and 2017 with 20.5 hot dogs and a 17th place finish.

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Derek Jacobs of Vandalia has competed in three Nathan's hot dog contest in New York. This year will be his fourth contest. Jacobs also competes in obstacle course races.

Credit: Submitted by Derek Jacobs

Derek Jacobs of Vandalia has competed in three Nathan's hot dog contest in New York. This year will be his fourth contest. Jacobs also competes in obstacle course races.

Credit: Submitted by Derek Jacobs

Combined ShapeCaption
Derek Jacobs of Vandalia has competed in three Nathan's hot dog contest in New York. This year will be his fourth contest. Jacobs also competes in obstacle course races.

Credit: Submitted by Derek Jacobs

Credit: Submitted by Derek Jacobs

During a typical year, upwards of 30,000 fans flock to the contest to watch in person. Millions of viewers regularly catch the competition on television on ESPN.

“It is encouraging to hold this event live for fans, who last year were unable to celebrate July 4 as they traditionally do,” James Walker, Senior Vice President, Restaurants, Nathan’s Famous, said. “Next year, we hope to return to the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues, where we have held this event for decade after decade.”

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