Speed eater retains title at July 4 hot dog contest

Speed eater retains title at July 4 hot dog contest

Photo: Associated Press

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Joey Chestnut, the reigning top dog in the annual Coney Island hot dog eating contest, won his seventh consecutive title on Thursday, devouring 69 hot dogs and buns as thousands of fans urged him on.

“I feel a little full,” Chestnut, 29, of San Jose, California, joked after the 10-minute competition. “I’m happy as heck. Things couldn’t have gone much better.”

Staged like a sporting event, with TV cameras trained on the colorfully nicknamed contestants and high piles of hot dogs, the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest is a summertime event that began in 1916, the year that Nathan’s Famous food stand opened on Surf Avenue at New York’s seaside Coney Island.

Chestnut, 220 pounds (100 kg) and nicknamed “Jaws,” defeated 14 men at a long table to take the mustard yellow champion’s belt home once again. He broke his record of 68 hot dogs.

“It was hot as heck out there,” Chestnut said, but added that was to be expected in New York on July 4.

The women’s champion, 45-year-old Sonya Thomas from Alexandria, Virginia, barely held on to her title, besting the next competitor by only three-quarters of a hot dog.

Thomas managed just short of 37 dogs in 10 minutes, significantly below her record of 45. Second-place finisher Juliet Lee, 46, from Germantown, Maryland, managed to swallow 36 hot dogs.

The 100-pound (45-kg) Thomas, known as “The Black Widow,” said she had a problem with the water she had used to dunk the buns, a technique used to make the bread go down more easily.

“It was very hot water, maybe too hot,” she said.

The heat was also an issue for Takeru Kobayashi, a competitive eater from Japan who staged a rival event in Manhattan. Kobayashi, 35 and 132 pounds (60 kg), was able to throw back just 67 hot dogs.

“It’s too hot,” said Kobayashi, whose hair was styled into a mohawk and dyed bright red. He complained of stiffness in his neck and shoulders, which he said was typical of speed eating.

“It’s like I’m pregnant,” he said.

Among the fans who had come out to cheer on Kobayashi were Michi and Shota Kato, who said Kobayashi was a friend and they occasionally shared a meal with him.

“Usually, he eats the same amount as us,” Michi Kato said.

Recent Headlines

in Music

This week’s top country tracks


LISTEN: This week's top country tracks, according to the latest Billboard chart.

in Entertainment

REVIEW: Veteran cast can’t save ‘The Martian’


It has all the earmarks of a blockbuster, but still can't shake the feeling of missed opportunity.

in Entertainment

WHAT’S ON: New on Netflix, Amazon & Hulu in October


Get your remotes ready for a binge-worthy weekend of new movies and TV shows.

in Music

Paisley, Shelton among those in Grand Ole Opry film


"American Saturday Night: Live From The Grand Ole Opry" will feature Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, The Band Perry and Brett Eldredge.

in Entertainment

‘The Walk’ puts audiences on edge


"The Walk," out in theaters on Friday, tells the story of the quirky Philippe Petit and a misty August morning in 1974 when he strung cables between the Twin Towers and walked across the gaping void.