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Reigning Champs Win Hot Dog Chow Down

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The women kicked off the hot dog eating event. (Yasmeen Khan/WNYC)

Some major eating was underway in Coney Island thanks to the annual hot dog eating contest, where the two reigning champions ate their way to victory.

Joey Chestnut won his sixth straight Coney Island hot dog eating contest. The San Jose, Calif., man known as "Jaws" ate an impressive 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to win $10,000. The number of dogs he ate on Wednesday tied his personal best, and was six more than he ate last year.

Chestnut is now tied with his former rival, Takeru Kobayashi, with six wins. Kobayashi did not compete.

Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, of Alexandria, Va., gobbled down 45 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, beating her own record to win the women's competition. The petite Thomas, who weighed in at 100 pounds, collects $10,000 for her victory, as well as bragging rights. Thomas said she had wanted to beat her previous record from last year, which was 41.

The crowd delighted in the annual competition, encouraging the contestants, clapping noisemakers and waving foam hands that read, "It's not crazy. It's sports."

Bill Veine, who lives in Chicago, said he's been watching the hot dog eating contest on television for years and it was his "dream" to see it in person. He and his wife flew in for a whirl wind trip of less than 24 hours just to witness the spectacle. "It's gluttony incarnate," he said. "It's reason 49,050 why I love this country."

Matthew Johnson, 11, said he enjoyed watching competitors "stuff their faces with hotdogs," but he took a more sensible approach to competitive eating.

"Me personally, I would never do that," he said.

Second place in the men's contest went to Tim Janus with 52 hot dogs. He takes home $5,000. He was third last year.

Juliet Lee, of Germantown, Md., took second place with 33 dogs and buns under her belt, and claims $5,000. Lee came in second last year.

The Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has been a city tradition for 97 years.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, known for his public health initiatives, presided over the annual weigh-in ceremony for the hot dog eating contest on Tuesday.

“Let me be perfectly frank,” Bloomberg said of the annual hotdog eating contest, “I relish it.”

With the Associated Press

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