Today, we have 15 MLB games and one NBA Playoff game. For extensive Saturday betting analysis, be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Brady Kannon and myself this morning from 10 a.m.-noon on The Lombardi Line. We'll be dissecting all the big matchups and updating the top lines moves across all the major sports. We'll also check in with Borgata Sportsbook Director Thomas Gable in Atlantic City.
In the meantime, let's discuss how the market is shaping up for this weekend's big betting event: the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest...
Do You Dare Bet Against Chestnut?
When it comes to dominating the competition, Joey Chestnut is in a league of his own. Chestnut, 37, stands 6-0 and weighs 230 pounds. He is ranked #1 in the world in Major League Eating. Chestnut has won the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest 13 times running, including the last five consecutively. Last year, when the annual 4th of July tradition was held indoors during the pandemic, Chestnut scarfed down 75 hot dogs to set a new all-time record.
Chestnut is listed as a whopping -3335 favorite (DraftKings) to win this year's competition, which will be held on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET. This translates to an implied probability of 97.1% that Chestnut will win. If you think someone can shock Chestnut like the Giants shocked the undefeated Patriots in 2007, the field is listed at + 900. This massive gap in betting odds speaks to just how dominant Chestnut is compared to his competitors.
With sports betting legalization spreading across America (we're up to 30 legal states since PASPA was overturned in 2018), many bettors will look to get in on the fun and throw a few bucks on the Hot Dog Eating Contest. However, despite being a virtual "lock" there is little to no value in backing Chestnut. The price is simply too high. You have to risk so much to win so little that the juice really isn't worth the squeeze.
So instead of betting on Chestnut to win, the smarter play might be to focus on the total number of hot dogs eaten by Chestnut.
DraftKings has set the over/under at 73.5 dogs.
Here's Chestnut's total hot dogs eaten since 2007, starting from last year and going backwards: 75, 71, 74, 72, 70, 60, 61, 69, 68, 62, 54, 68, 59, 66.
From 2007 to 2015, Chestnut averaged 62.8 hot dogs. But then a switch was flipped starting in 2016. Over the past five years, Chestnut has averaged 72.4, a roughly 10-dog increase. He has gone over 73.5 hot dogs in two of the past three years.
In a recent interview on VSiN's Follow the Money, Chestnut shed light on why he seems to be aging like a fine wine.
"I am getting older but I know my body so much better. I know how to push myself. I feel like I'm finding new ways to do it. I'm pretty sure I can beat [the world record of 75]."
One of the variables that bettors must consider is that this year's competition will go back to the boardwalk of Coney Island instead of being held indoors. Some have hypothesized that the outdoor heat and lack of air conditioning could provide a muggy and unpleasant atmosphere, which is why the under 73.5 might be worth a look at a juicy + 150 payout.
"It didn't hurt," Chestnut said of being indoors last year. "Not being outside in the humidity probably helped me a little bit."
However, last year's competition was also held without a crowd, along with limited participants. Will more competition and hundreds of cheering patriotic fans provide Chestnut a boost?
"There's gonna be an audience this year, I'm so excited to be in front of a big crowd."
Bettors taking the over will be able to track Chestnut's pace along the way. According to Chestnut, in order to break the world record he will need to eat 19 hot dogs in the first 1.5 minutes and then at least 48 at the 5 minute mark. If that happens, Chestnut knows "that the record should be going down."
"I've hit 80 in practice... It's not at all impossible."
Bettors looking to bet the total number of dogs should pay close attention to the juice. The over 73.5 is priced at -200 and the under + 150. Why are oddsmakers making you pay such a high price on the over? Because that seems to be the sharp side with liability. DraftKings Sportsbook Director Johnny Avello put it this way: "we have over 2-dollars so we believe he will go over."
If you're looking to go contrarian and take the under, it pays out notable plus money (+ 150). Count George Shea, the Contest's MC, as a believer in the under.
"I would bet under just because [it's a] new place, outside,.. I think he's reached the limit of where he can be... I would be shocked if he's above 75."
There are several other ways to bet Sunday's Contest, including head-to-head matchups between other competitors. One value bet may be Geoffrey Esper (-125) over Darron Breeden (+ 100).
Esper has beaten Chestnut several times along the competitive eating circuit. He once ate 235 Hostess Donnettes in six minutes, outdueling Chestnut. Esper is ranked 2nd in Major League Eating and Breeden is ranked 3rd. Esper's personal best is 51. Breeden will be competing in his 6th Contest. Here are his results: 28, 38.5, 43, 50, 42.
On the women's side, Michelle Lesco is a -1000 favorite to win the competition (91% implied probability). The field is + 500. Miki Sudo, who has won the competition for the past seven years, will not be competing this year.