Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Hosts Nathan's Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest Weigh-In Ceremony

July 3, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much. Thank you George.

[Applause]

Thank you for your leadership of this important enterprise. I love your hat, by the way. High fashion.

Well, it is an honor to be here to help kick off a great New York tradition, the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. Now tomorrow – this will be at the Nathan’s original location, a place that is sacred to all New Yorkers, the original site that is imbued in all of us, a part of our culture, something that is quintessentially New York, a place I love to visit. And this is, of course, the contest is a one of a kind New York summer tradition. It dates back at least 42 years. Now, there is a historical bone of contention. There are reports that trace it back to July 4, 1916. Historians are still working on this matter.

As a proud Brooklynite, I am particularly honored to be a part of this. My family loves Coney Island, we’ve loved it for years. And we go down there and have a great time. And a Nathan’s hot dog is obviously always a part of the experience. And all of us feel a special bond this year with Coney Island because of the role that my children played in the Mermaid Parade. Dante as King Neptune, Chiara as queen of the mermaids. Chirlane and I got caught up in the excitement, got dressed up too. It seemed like the natural thing to do. We had a great time. And I must say, on top of all else, I just personally love Nathan’s hot dogs and look for every opportunity to have one. So this is a very good day here at City Hall. A lot of very enthusiastic City Hall staffers today, buying the hot dogs.

I want to thank Nathan's Famous's president, Wayne Norbitz, for his leadership, and all he does for New York City, and for preserving – being a real force in preserving what's great about Coney Island, and what is obviously a – Nathan's Famous, that original location, one of the great iconic locations in this city. Nathan's Famous started nearly 100 years ago as a nickel hot dog stand, and became a beloved staple – first in Coney Island, then all over the city, then all over the whole New York area. The famous green and mustard yellow sign is a symbol beloved by all New Yorkers. And on top of that, Nathan's is very, very generous to their fellow New Yorkers, donating over 100,000 hot dogs a year to the Food Bank for New York City. And we deeply appreciate that.

Now, tomorrow, rain or shine, tens of thousands of people will descend on Coney Island to relish the great hot dog contest. That was my first attempt at a pun – to relish it. Get it, everyone? This is a big deal. More than a million fans will be watching on ESPN. So, the eyes of the nation will be on Coney Island. And this is an extraordinary event, and it's very, very competitive. It's highly competitive. People train all year. Some might say it's so competitive it's a dog-eat-dogatmosphere.

I got great writers. I'll be here all week.

[LAUGHTER]

So tomorrow, we'll find out if the legend, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut can continue his streak. And we'll find out more about the rookie phenom, Miki Sudo. And, we'll see what the returning female champion Sonya Thomas can do, and she is known as the "Black Widow" – obviously, a formidable competitor. The winner will not only get fame and renown, but the coveted and  bejeweled mustard belt. There's one for the men's category, one for the women's category. The eyes of New York City are on this competition. And I'm looking forward to the weigh-in. We're going to have this important moment, and then I'm going to come back when we finish with this and talk to people about the weather dynamics we'll be facing in the next few days in this city. But, first and foremost, I want to wish everyone a very happy Independence Day, a wonderful weekend – and it will be kicked off with this great event. And now, we're ready for the formal weigh-in.

BREAK

Mayor: This will just take a quick second, but I want to make sure everyone is up to date. We’ve obviously been watching the weather situation very carefully for tomorrow and for the whole weekend. Situating my Nathan’s hot dog here for a moment.

So, the Office of Emergency Management has been tracking this weather system for several days, and remains in close contact with the National Weather Service to monitor the storm. The latest is Hurricane Arthur is currently about 300 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It is expected to turn northeast today, and is forecast to pass well southeast of New York City on Friday. According to the National Weather Service – and we’re going to emphasize in all the briefings we give from this point on that everything is as of the time of the last National Weather Service report. So at this moment, the – thankfully New York City will not experience storm surges and will not experience particularly high winds. We will continue to monitor the storm constantly and vigilantly, but the report at this moment is we will not be hit by a surge or by particularly high winds.

What New York City will experience, based on the reports we’re receiving now, is heavy rainfall and strong tides.  So we saw some flooding last night. We can expect heavy rains, some flash flooding as a result. And we will see that starting this afternoon, going through Friday afternoon. Want to remind people to be very careful in any areas that are prone to flooding and be mindful of the possibility of very fast flooding, flash flooding. So particular caution while driving in areas prone to flooding.

Now, another thing we do expect is dangerous rip currents. So this will be particularly true, obviously, for folks who are out at the ocean beaches, tomorrow and over the weekend. We expect these rip currents—they’re to be taken very seriously. No one should take lightly these currents, they’re very dangerous. All beachgoers should only swim in areas monitored by lifeguards. I want to emphasize that. With these kinds of currents, they are much stronger than is visible. No one should take them lightly. If there are not lifeguards around, you should not be swimming there. Also it’s crucial to heed the instructions of lifeguards. If lifeguards are telling people to get out of the water, they should take that seriously. They should honor that immediately. And please pay close attention to any flags and posted signs indicating danger. We will see some lightning, most likely. Obviously lightening in open areas can be dangerous. When lightening occurs people should take cover. Get indoors if at all possible.

So, we’ll keep a close eye on the situation. We’ll have other updates as we go along. So far, thank God, some of the worst possibilities are passing us by, but we still want to take this very seriously and we will keep everyone updated. And despite this we know the contest goes on rain or shine, and we’re hopeful for a great holiday weekend for everyone. That’s the update, thanks everyone. 

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