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.

Latest Headlines

in Local

Judge Gives Final Approval For $338M Oil Train Settlement


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) A U.S. bankruptcy judge has approved a $338 million settlement fund for victims of a fiery oil train derailment that claimed 47 lives in Quebec.

in Local

Maine Directs Residents To Referendum Election Guide Online


AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap wants residents to familiarize themselves with the state's upcoming public referendums, including one about campaign finance laws.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: ‘A Reasonable Speed’ with Keanu Reeves


This could give the "Fast & Furious" a run for its money.

in Local

Railroad Drops Objection to $338M Oil Train Settlement Fund


A Canadian railroad has withdrawn its objection to a $338 million settlement fund for victims of a fiery train derailment that claimed 47 lives in Quebec, removing the final obstacle to the fund's approval.

in Local

Woman Charged in Supermarket Killing Pleads Guilty


A woman accused of stabbing a victim at random in a Maine supermarket has pleaded guilty to murder.