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94th Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest Defending Champion Joey Chestnut VS Six-Time Champion Takeru Kobayashi The Mustard Belt NATHAN'S FAMOUS ANNOUNCES 2009 QUALIFYING TOUR FOR THE JULY FOURTH INTERNATIONAL HOT-DOG EATING CONTEST Nathan's Famous, Inc. has announced that its annual July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest will return for the 94th year at the company's flagship store in Coney Island on July 4, 2009. The event, which has become an integral part of America's celebration of Independence Day, will pit two-time champion Joey Chestnut against six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi. In 2008, the world watched as Chestnut and Kobayashi battled it out in an exhilarating five hot dog overtime. Chestnut won, but Kobayashi immediately vowed to return to reclaim the Coveted Mustard Yellow Belt, the most revered award in the world of competitive eating. In anticipation of the 2009 rematch, Nathan's Famous has announced a list of cities throughout the United States that will play host to official qualifying events. The champions of each qualifier will compete at the original Nathan's Famous in Coney Island on July Fourth. "Each July Fourth I am thrilled as an enormous crowd gathers in front of the original Nathan's Famous," said Wayne Norbitz, President and COO of Nathan's Famous, Inc. "We value our association with this great American holiday and I appreciate the fans, who come from around the world to witness the spectacle first hand while millions more watch on ESPN." Last year, Coney Island authorities stated that 40,000 fans crowded the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island to witness Joey Chestnut's rematch with Takeru Kobayashi. Over one million households tuned in to the contest's live telecast on ESPN. Chestnut, a San Jose resident, ate 59 hot dogs in the ten-minute contest and ended up in a tie with Japan's Kobayashi. Overtime ensued, and in just 50 seconds Chestnut completed an additional five hot dogs to secure his second Nathan's Famous title. The official 2009 Nathan's Famous hot dog-eating circuit began on May 2nd in Biloxi, MS. Other cities on the tour include Las Vegas, NV (May 7),Boston, MA (May 9), Hartford, CT (May 16), Allentown, PA (May 17), Atlantic City, NJ (May 23), Tempe, AZ (May 30), Tampa, FL (May 30), Norfolk, VA (June 6), Kansas City, MO (June 6), Minneapolis, MN (June 6), Charlotte, NC (June 13), Denver, CO (June 13), Queens, NY (June 20), Atlanta, GA (June 27), and San Francisco, CA (June 27). Qualifiers were open to those 18 years of age. The winner of each qualifying round received the right to compete in the Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest which, according to archives, has occurred each July 4th in Coney Island, NY since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant. ESPN ESPN HD ESPN 360 ESPN Mobile