Hot Dog

Local Nathan’s Hot Dog franchisee Russell Laurenzano is hoping to bring the company’s famous annual hot dog eating qualifier contest to Ocean City. The event is tentatively scheduled for June 13. 

Coney Island staple good fit for resort, would be held same day as city’s Air Show

(Feb. 14, 2020) Ocean City residents and visitors may see competitive eaters shove grotesque amounts of hot dogs down their throats this summer, as local Nathan’s Hot Dog franchisee Russell Laurenzano works with the company to bring a part of its famous contest to the resort. 

“They have been trying to get into the Ocean City market for many, many years,” Laurenzano said at Tuesday’s Recreation and Parks Committee meeting. 

Laurenzano has been a franchisee with the company for five years, and is a New York native himself. 

He said that the company had been “dangling” the opportunity of hosting one of its pre-qualifier competitions in the resort for quite some time. 

“Through some of the contacts that I have in the corporate office at Nathan’s, they [Nathan’s contacts] were able to convince them [Major League of Eating] to let Ocean City be a feature to host one of these events,” he said. 

Despite the contest being called Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, the Major League of Eating — the Major League Baseball of competitive eating — has sanctioned it since 1997. 

There are only 12 qualifiers and they typically are held at raceways for NASCAR events. They also generally receive national media coverage from ESPN, meaning the event had huge crowd-drawing potential for the resort, Laurenzano said. 

The only issue, however, was the date and desired time for the event: Saturday, June 13, 1-4 p.m., at the same time as the Ocean City Air Show. 

However, City Special Events Superintendent Frank Miller seemed unfazed by the conflicting schedules, and said it could be worked around. 

Councilman Mark Paddack said the event would be a parking nightmare, as the city already sees droves of visitors for the air show, but “It [the event] could be a homerun, because the people will be here anyways,” he said. 

Other committee members expressed similar enthusiasm, and gave their approval to move the event request forward to the full mayor and council as soon as possible.

Josh covers everything Ocean City government and crime. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a B.A. in French and Journalism.

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