Sports on TV: America is back to watching Joey Chestnut scarf hot dogs on ESPN

Sports on TV: America is back to watching Joey Chestnut scarf hot dogs on ESPN

One of America’s more bizarre traditions is celebrating its 18th-century independence from Great Britain by watching people eat as many hot dogs as humanly possible in 10 minutes.

Like all sports — and yes, I’m straining the definition of “sport” here — the annual “Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog-Eating Contest” on ESPN saw its ratings tank in 2020 as the pandemic ravaged just about all TV viewership.

But in 2021, slamming wieners on TV for fun and profit is BACK, BABY.

Sunday’s telecast of the men’s event averaged 1.35 million viewers, ESPN said, and that’s a 37 percent year-over-year improvement from 2020’s average of 966,000. Last year was the least-watched telecast of the event since 2005 when just 860,000 tuned in.

The 2019 broadcast averaged 1.36 million, meaning this year’s event was essentially flat from the last pre-pandemic contest.

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