Meet the mother-daughter duo competing in Nathan's Fourth of July hot dog eating contest

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This mother-daughter duo is bringing their appetite to Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

New Jersey-based René Rovtar, 62, and her daughter, Kristina Rovtar Dunne, 33, told Fox News they will be taking part in the iconic competition Sunday, on Independence Day.

It’ll be René’s fifth year competing and Kristina’s second time bellying up to the plate. 

New Jersey-based René Rovtar, 62, and her daughter, Kristina Rovtar Dunne, 33, will be competing in the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest this year.
(Courtesy of  René Rovtar)

“I had seen young women compete and I said to my family, ‘Four hot dogs? I could eat four hot dogs,’” said René, a Basking Ridge-based superintendent. 

René said she qualified for the contest back in 2017 when she finished eight hot dogs in minutes. This year, her goal is 10.

Her technique? Eating the hot dog solo and dipping the bun in liquid to make it easier to scarf down, she said.

Last year, reigning hot dog champion Joey Chestnut polished off 75 hot dogs while the female winner, Miki Sudo ate 48.5, which is a new women’s record. While René and Kristina hope to beat their own personal best, they’re competing for fun. 

“My mom and I are the best of friends. My mom did it for the first time in 2017 and we watched her compete and I was like, ‘I think I can do that,’” Kristina, a high school art teacher, told Fox News. “We’re not going to win the competition and we know that, but it’s something fun.” 

The mother-daughter duo will compete in the women’s hot dog eating contest Sunday.
(Courtesy of  René Rovtar)

Kristina, who qualified for the tube steak-eating competition in 2018 in Syracuse, New York, said her personal best is 6.5 hot dogs. This year, she’s aiming to eat eight – and teach her students a lesson on a national platform.

“I love putting myself out there and showing my students that it’s okay to live outside of your comfort zone,” Kristina said. 

Mom agreed: “I thought it was a great lesson … you don’t have to win everything you try – just give it your best,” René said. 

"I love putting myself out there and showing my students that it’s okay to live outside of your comfort zone," Kristina (right) said. 
(Courtesy of  René Rovtar)

Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest will broadcast from Maimonides Park not far from the original Nathan’s restaurant, but due to COVID-19, there will be fewer fans packing in at 5,000 – down from a typical 30,000 pre-pandemic. 

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The women’s championship will begin at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN3 Sunday, followed by the men’s championship at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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