NEW YORK (AP) — A seven-time champion and the two-time women's winner will defend their titles at the annual hot dog-eating contest on Coney Island.
Seventeen men and 13 women will compete Friday in front of a crowd of about 30,000 spectators and a TV audience of about 1 million in the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, now in its 99th year.
Joey Chestnut, a 30-year-old San Jose, California, man nicknamed "Jaws," tips the scale at 205 pounds. He hopes to put away his competition by downing a record 70 hot dogs in 10 minutes in the raucous event held just steps from the beach. Last year, Chestnut won with 69 franks and buns. Matt Stonie, who was second in 2013 with 51 dogs, returns for another run at the top spot. He weighs in at 130 pounds.
With Chestnut's seventh-straight victory last year, he bested his former rival, Takeru Kobayashi, with most consecutive wins. In 2010, Kobayashi refused to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, the food equivalent of the NFL, and was banned from competition.
This year, the Japanese native nicknamed the "Tsunami" will compete against five other competitive eaters at a separate event on Fifth Avenue in a quest to down the most hot dogs without buns in 10 minutes.
The two-time defending women's champ is Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, a 47-year-old who was born in South Korea and now lives in Alexandria, Virginia. She will try to eat more than 45 hot dogs on Friday. At 100 pounds, she hopes to defend her title against 115-pound Miki Sudo.
The top four competitors weighed in Thursday at a pre-contest event presided over by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
All the competitors said they were fasting, but Irish contestant Colin Shirlow grabbed a free hot dog during the weigh-in to get a first taste of the Nathan's Famous dogs they'll be gobbling down.