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Steve's Snappin' Dogs is holding a doggone good contest to benefit Project Angel Heart

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Steve Ballas doesn't believe that the fact his birthday coincides with the beginning of National Hot Dog Month is a coincidence. "I believe in fate and everything happening for a reason."

Ballas, who owns Steve's Snappin' Dogs, 3535 East Colfax Avenue, is hoping diners will bank on their own fate to push their stomachs to the precipice of overconsumption in an effort to qualify for the restaurant's third annual hot dog eating contest later this month.

It'll cost you $25 to be a contender in the July 25 battle -- that and you've gotta pound five of Steve's Thumann's pork and beef dogs (bun included) in three minutes. You can wander into Steve's any time during opening hours if they'd like to try to qualify.

The top eight contenders will compete for $150 and the "Top Dog" honor during an eight-minute all-you-can-eat eat-off. The contest, proceeds of which go to Project Angel Heart, will go down at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 25 at the restaurant.

The "you gotta eat the bun" rule sets Steve's contest apart from Nathan's annual hot dog contest, which allows contestants to commit all sorts of crimes against their hot dogs, including separating wiener from bun and soaking the buns in water. "I think hot dogs need to be eaten the way God made them -- in the bun," Ballas declares.

Ballas admits -- and anyone who has watched Nathan's hot dog eating contest knows -- it can get pretty gross "with mustard on their lips and what not." Still, he has a vision of making the contest as notorious as Nathan's, eventually shifting the contest to City Park or Infinity Park.

"There's all the Nathan's hype over the Fourth of July," -- the annual contest is slated for this Sunday, July 4 at 11 a.m. -- "so I wanted to close down the month," he says.

Steve's Snappin' Dogs is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 303-333-7627.

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