What Do Beanie Babies, Hot Dogs & Miracles Have in Common?

What Do Beanie Babies, Hot Dogs & Miracles Have in Common?

I’m no Jim Carrey, but I did love him as the Riddler in 1995’s Batman Forever. And in true Riddler fashion, I, too, have a riddle for you! Here it goes: what do Beanie Babies, hot dogs and miracles have in common?

I sense some confusion – what could these three things possibly have in common? And maybe before 2014, they didn’t have much to do with one another, but Vizo Financial changed that with the creation of our annual Hot Dog Eating Contest.

If the puzzle pieces are starting to come together now, then you probably already know about and are anxiously awaiting our 2024 contest, which is set to take place virtually on Thursday, July 18, 2024! Oh, and speaking of 1995 and, duh!, Beanie Babies, this year’s contest has a totally awesome 90s theme.

I’m proud to say I’ve been a part of the contest since the very beginning, and what a journey it’s been! Would you mind walking down memory lane with me for a moment?

How It Started

For the very first contest, it was a bit of a whirlwind. We had all of two weeks to pull off an entire event from start to finish – put together the rules and the details, spread the word to credit unions, create signs and decorations, prepare our office building and so on.

Then, on the day of, we were setting up tables, cooking hot dogs to be eaten during the contest, greeting contestants and their supporters, hosting and filming the contest. It was also the hottest day of the year thus far in 2014. Needless to say, it was a scramble, but we pulled it off, and we’ve been continuing the tradition ever since.

How It’s Going

That tradition has been going strong now for 11 years, and has allowed us to welcome 86 contestants, 12 Miracle Families, 187 credit union/organization sponsors and $58,000 in donations, all of which have been donated to Penn State Health Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pa. P.S., check out this infographic for more stats!

This Year’s Contest: The 411

This year, we’re set to welcome even more sponsors, donation dollars and contestants, as well as a very special Miracle Family, to our virtual contest on July 18. And, because it’s virtual, the contest is open for credit union sponsors and contestants, supporters, family, friends, fellow Miracle children and anyone from across the country to watch and participate.

The livestreamed event will begin at 3:10 p.m. ET, with a few words from a CMN Hospitals representative and a story from the Miracle family who lived it. The contest will then kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET, where contestants will have five minutes to eat as many hot dogs as they can – let the hot dog eating begin!


Since we’re all about the riddles today, I have another one for you. How can you get your whole credit union involved in the contest with very little effort? Be a sponsor! Our sponsorships offer the perfect opportunity to do just that! The 2024 event has three sponsorship levels to choose from:

  • Frankfurter: This $50 sponsorship is original to the contest.
  • All the Fixin’s: This $100 sponsorship was added in 2019 and features even more perks than the Frankfurter level.
  • The Ultimate Dog: This special $200 sponsorship is the top-tier package and offers an exclusive sponsor GIF and social media spotlight.

All sponsorships come with the use of pre-made promotional materials and various other perks, plus the incredible feeling that comes from helping others, of course (aka, the best part)!


Credit union employees are invited to battle it out in the hot dog arena! Want to toss your hat in the ring as a contestant? In my experience watching contestants compete, there is no “right strategy.” I’ve seen people douse their dogs in water and move them rather quickly, and I’ve also seen people take the full five minutes to eat just one hot dog, but here’s the general gist of how it works: gather your hot dogs, prepare your preferred fixings and, on the big day, compete virtually through an online conference platform. At the end, we’ll see if you can earn one of three rad hot-dog inspired titles:

  • The Top Dog: This prize will be awarded to the contestant who eats the most hot dogs in five minutes.
  • Hot Diggity Dog: This prize will be awarded to the contestant who shows the most spirit for the contest.
  • Rollin' In The Dough: This prize will be awarded to the contestant who raises the most money online for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

And let’s not forget about the prizes that come with these titles. The winning contestant of each category will receive a $100 gift card, as well as bragging rights. But, there is one more thing that contestants can do to make this contest even more successful – collect donations. We encourage contestants to do their own fundraising in their quest for hot dog greatness! Sound exciting? I hope you think so and choose to join the competition!

How Miracles Are Made

No matter how many contestants or sponsors we have, who wins, how many hot dogs are eaten, whether we’re virtual or in person and so on, the goal of the contest has been and will always be to give kids the gift of growing up. It’s about gathering our movement together to fundraise and show our support for CMN Hospitals in their admirable efforts to create miracles for children who are sick and/or injured.

Maybe those miracles are small kindnesses that come in the form of art supplies and stickers, which are given to children to decorate their masks before they undergo anesthesia, or a portable CT scanner that can travel to critically ill or injured children so they don’t need to be moved from their rooms. Maybe others are larger, like a pediatric ambulance that can transport a child to the hospital just in the nick of time. Regardless, the Hot Dog Eating Contest is crucial in Vizo Financial’s efforts to make those miracles happen for children who are treated at CMN Hospitals at Penn State Health Children’s Hospitals.

And to think it all began with a small idea that turned into a big celebration of life for so many children – those who could be our own children, our family members, our children’s school friends or a neighbor. As Vincent Van Gogh once said, “great things are done by a series of small things put together.”

We’ve, indeed, run with that notion and created an almost palpable kind of magic through this event. It’s incredible to think that we’ve brought together our philosophy of “people helping people,” our cooperative nature, our love for of our movement’s charity of choice, the tried-and-true hot dog, a whole lot of fun and even more compassion to put on an event that is quite literally lifesaving for many. I, for one, am so proud and honored to be a part of the annual Hot Dog Eating Contest, and I certainly hope you will join us for this year’s big event!

Well there you have it – when someone (maybe even the Riddler) asks you what Beanie Babies, hot dogs and miracles have in common, you can now happily shout Vizo Financial’s 2024 Hot Dog Eating Contest!

Before you go, though, riddle me this…how can you be part of the miracles? Click the button below to find out:

You can also follow all Hot Dog Eating Contest news and milestones on Vizo Financial’s LinkedIn, X and Instagram pages using these hashtags: #VizoHotDogEatingContest24 & #AllThatAndABunchOfHotDogs.

Now, pretend it’s the 90s again and pass it on!

Brittany Hockenberry is the senior communications specialist for Vizo Financial. She has been with the Corporate for more than a decade, working within the marketing department to create blog articles, email communications, social media content, website content, videos, press releases, newsletters and more. In addition to her bachelor's degree in communications/journalism, she also earned a certification in podcasting from the Berkeley Advanced Media Institute in 2022 and her Credit Union Development Educator designation in 2023.