Updated 07/05/2011 10:05 AM
Chestnut Eats 62 Hot Dogs To Earn Fifth Nathan's Mustard Belt
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Five-time champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut proved he had a big appetite for victory at the world-famous Nathan's fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest Monday, which this year included a separate women's division.
Chestnut earned his fifth Mustard Belt by polishing off 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.
His performance topped the 54 weiners he ate last year, but it was still short of his previous world record of 68 hot dogs.
"My strategy is getting into a rhythm -- two hot dogs, two buns, two hot dogs, two buns. A couple of times I slipped up on that, my rhythm got broke, but I was able to keep the lead and keep pushing," said Chestnut.
Nevertheless, he was many bites ahead of the second-place winner, Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, who only ate 55 hot dogs and was left with hands completely covered with red ketchup.
Meanwhile, Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, who weighs only 100 pounds, ate 40 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes and won the first-ever pink Pepto Bismol Belt in the women's division.
"You have to chew after swallowing, right? But I trained my brain, 'Okay, this piece I can swallow.' So I've been practicing like this," said Thomas. "So all the eaters they've been practicing like that so they just swallow quickly, yeah."
Thomas and Chestnut each earned $20,000.
The thousands of spectators who watched the contests thought it was a fun way to celebrate Independence Day.
"There’s more American than to eat a lot of unhealthy food, so we thought we would come out and celebrate for the Fourth of July," said one bystander.
"I’ve tried it myself, it’s not easy…. It takes skill, honestly," said an amateur competitive eater.
Yet the winner was not always such a big eater. The first Nathan's hot dog eating champion in 1916 ate only a dozen hot dogs.
Former Champ Sets Personal Record
Former Nathan's champion Takeru Kobayashi also chowed down in his own hot dog eating competition in Manhattan Monday and set an unofficial new world record.
The Japanese competitive eater wolfed down 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes on a rooftop in the Flatiron District, while standing near a giant TV screen showing the Nathan's contest.
Kobayashi was ineligible to compete in the main event, because he did not sign an exclusive contract with the Major League Eating organization.
"He said he's very happy about his winning today, but he is not at his peak and he says he can go a lot more. He feels it," an interpreter said for Kobayashi. "And he thinks he's going to go for 95, 80, and he's doing really well."
Kobayashi was arrested last year while trying to crash the Nathan's contest, but charges against him were later dropped.