The 103rd Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place on Thursday, July 4 in Coney Island. The women's contest starts at 10:45 a.m. EST and the men's contest starts at noon EST, so until then, brush up on your hot dog facts before you tune in to the contest (and by the way, here's how to watch the event on Thursday).

1. The reigning men's champion, Joey Chestnut, is also a world record holder.

In 2018, he set the world record with 74 hot dogs. Chestnut has broken multiple world records throughout the years. Can he make it to 75 this year?

2. Only contestants under contract with Major League Eating are allowed to compete.

The 20 contestants in the annual contest usually include qualifiers, those invited by MLE and the defending champion. MLE has sanctioned the event since 1997.

3. Various types of drinks are allowed, but most contestants use water. 

They also tend to jump and shimmy to help the food slide down their esophagus.

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4. Condiments are allowed, but contestants rarely use them.

Although maybe ketchup or mustard would make swallowing easier? Hard to say.

5. The contest only lasts 10 minutes.

The length of the contest has varied over the years, lasting as long as 12 minutes and as briefly as three and a half minutes. The 10-minute length was settled upon in 2008.

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6. Most competitive eaters work to stretch out their stomachs in preparation for the competition. 

According to Nathan's, some contestants drink gallons of milk or water very quickly to stretch their stomachs or they eat a lot of filling, high-fiber foods like watermelon or oatmeal.

7. Despite stereotypes, most competitive eaters are physically fit.

They work out and train often to boost their metabolism and build muscle. They also often eat low-calorie diets after competing.

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8. The contest began in 1916 to settle an argument regarding who was the most patriotic. 

Because hot dogs equal pride, obviously.

9. The contest has been held every year except 1941 and 1971.

The contest was reportedly skipped in 1941 as a "protest to the war in Europe" and in 1971 to acknowledge and protest "political unrest" in the United States.

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10. The separate women's contest didn't begin until 2011.

Sonya Thomas, nicknamed the "Black Widow," won the first three years of the women's contest. Miki Sudo has held the crown since 2014.

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