For more than 40 years, Melody Andorfer worked as a registered nurse on the front lines at Elmhurst Hospital. She worked in the neo-natal intensive care unit, drug and alcohol rehab, the acute brain trauma unit, and also spent ten years as an emergency room nurse, where she met her husband, a paramedic and EMT.
In 1972, the first year of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest -- though publicists at the time claimed it was a longtime annual tradition -- Melody entered and won. She beat all competitors, men and women. Her prize was a paper crown. During the next four years Melody represented Coney Island in dozens of events, all stunts thought up by the flamboyant publicist Max Rosey. In 1975, she reigned as Miss S.L.O.B. (which stood for Stop Littering Our Beaches), a publicity stunt to clean up the Coney Island beach.
Melody recently contacted the Coney Island History Project with an unusual request: she wanted help getting her victory belt, the massive, jeweled prize that's now given to winners of the Nathan's contest. We feel that she deserves it, and after hearing her story, we hope that Nathan's will take notice and award her this long-overdue prize.
UPDATE: We're happy to report that on July 2, 2021, at the weigh-in ceremony for the 2021 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, Melody Andorfer joyfully received her victory belt for her 1972 win. Thank you to George and Rich Shea of Major League Eating, producers of the contest.