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68 in 10 mins

Sir Tokyo Sexwale

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hotdogs that is


reckon I could beat that...


Crowds flocked to Coney Island on a sweltering Fourth of July to watch an event that has become as much a holiday tradition as barbecues and fireworks – the annual Nathan's hot-dog eating contest.


And what they saw was two athletes (of sorts) at the top of their competitive eating game.


Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas broke her own world record, wolfing down 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes to take the women's title. Meanwhile, over in the men's competition, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut scored his sixth consecutive victory, tying his best of 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes in the process.


The hype was almost as impressive as the achievements of those cramming frankfurters and water-sodden buns down their throats.


"They say competitive eating is the ground on which God and Lucifer wage war," boomed announcer George Shea as the men's competitors took the stage in front of an audience chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A".


The Independence Day crowd was filled with people in stars and stripes hats and full-body Uncle Sam costumes. All were waiting to watch 29 contestants attempt to knock down as many hot dogs as possible in 10 minutes. But the main draw was the women's competition, where Thomas, who weighs 100lb, hit the world record of 45 hot dogs with just 45 seconds left.


"She is evil," said Shea, as the Black Widow took the stage. Thomas's total of 45 matched the age she is turning on 26 July, a goal she had discussed with Chestnut.


"I am going to be 46 next year and I want to break another record" said Thomas after the competition. Chestnut, for his part, said he wanted to break 70.


At the halfway mark, female second-place finisher Juliet Lee seemed to pose a threat to Thomas' reign, having eaten 27 hot dogs to Thomas' 29. But her pace slowed, and Lee finished with 33 hot dogs. Michelle "Cardboard Shell" Lesco, who competed wearing headphones, came in third with 25.5 hot dogs.


This was the second year Nathan's had sponsored a separate competition for men and women, and the crowds were eager to see Chestnut retain his title.


"I will not rest until they give him a monument in Washington DC," called Shea as Chestnut walked across the stage to a roaring crowd.


Chestnut missed the 70 hot dog goal by a small margin, but still managed to retain his mustard-yellow belt. It means Chestnut, 28, has cumulatively consumed a stomach-churning 177 hot dogs in 1hr 2min, across six consecutive competitions.


His plans immediately following the competition were somewhat quotidian for someone who can eat more hot dogs faster than anyone in the world. Chestnut said he was going to "drink some liquids, take a nap, watch the fireworks, drink some beer."


Chestnut had a decidedly more mellow attitude in competition than his fellow competitors. Second-placed Tim "Eater X" Janus wore his traditional black-and-white competition mask as he devoured 52.25 dogs, and third-placed Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti competed in rather patriotic stars-and-stripes Speedos while wolfing down 50 dogs.


A place behind, in fourth, was a 20-year-old rookie from the same town as Chestnut. Matt "Megatoad" Stonie got into competitive eating aged 18 after a local restaurant in San Jose, California offered a 5lb burrito eating competition.


"I made $1,500 for fourth place, and it will help me pay for college" said Stonie, who is, ironically, majoring in nutrition.


On the opposite end of Brooklyn, former world champion Takeru Kobayashi was staging his own event, the Crif Dog Classic. A six-year consecutive world champion, Kobayashi has become a controversial figure on the competitive eating circuit after getting embroiled in a long-running contractual dispute with the competitive eating governing agency – which does, in fact, exist – Major League Eating.


"One hundred percent, this contest has nothing to do with going up against them," Kobayashi told the Guardian through his interpreter and publicist Maggie James.


Many credit Kobyashi with bringing nationwide attention to the Fourth of July tradition, which garnered 1.95 million viewers in 2011, and the Japanese star is responsible for pioneering the "Solomon method," which, in line with its Bible-inspired name, involves separating two hot dogs from the bun, breaking them in half, eating those pieces simultaneously and chasing it down with the liquid-soaked buns.


At Nathan's Famous, a small contingent of Kobayashi fans held signs supporting their hero: "Takeru Kobayashi, you take-ru my heart" and "Eating 69 hot dogs is not a crime #freekobi"

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