Sonya Thomas makes history at hot dog contest

Sonya Thomas makes history at hot dog contest
Photo by Paul Martinka

“The Black Widow” could not be squashed.

Legendary competitive eater Sonya Thomas smashed the female world record at the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Competition with 45 HDBs (hot dogs and buns), giving the famed athlete her second-straight Coney Island women’s victory.

“I’m going to be 45, and I wanted to eat my age,” Thomas said.

The Virginia resident and Burger King manager bested the 40 HDBs she put away in the first-ever women’s only Nathan’s contest last year, and the previous women’s world record of 41 HDBs she set competing against men in 2009.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut tied his Nathan’s record with 68 HDBs (hot dogs and buns) at the 2012 competition.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Juliet Lee devoured 33 HDBs, enough processed meat to earn her a second-place finish, while Michelle Lesco snagged third with 25.5 HDBs.

On the men’s side, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut won his sixth-straight Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Championship — and he left the contest hungry.

The 28-year-old mandible from California matched his Coney Island record of 68 HDBs in the July 4 exhibition of professional gluttony, but moments after the feeding frenzy ended, he said he wished had put away 70 HDBs.

“It’s a real bummer that I couldn’t break my record, but it shows I can match my best,” the eater said.

Victory comes at a price.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Chestnut, the overwhelming favorite, broke away about three minutes into the 10-minute contest, building his lead and keeping up a steady pace until the last eight seconds, when he crammed four entire hot dogs into his mouth.

Popular contender Tim “Eater X” Janus earned his second-ever second place finish at Nathan’s, putting away 52.25 HDBs. Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti guzzled down 51 HDBs for third, and first-timer Matt Stony, who, like Chestnut hails from San Jose, Calif., came in fourth with an impressive 46 HDBs.

Thousands of eating fans gathered on Surf Avenue to watch the display of manducation, but competitive eating experts are already looking forward to next year — because that’s when Chestnut will truly have a chance to make hot dog history.

The eater’s sixth straight Nathan’s victory ties the streak set by his longtime rival Takeru Kobayashi — who in separate exhibition hours later put away 68.5 HDBs.

First comes the gluttony — then comes the glory for Joey “Jaws” Chestnut.
Photo by Paul Martinka

A seventh consecutive victory at Nathan’s would be a first for the famed contest.

Kobayashi was considered by many to be unbeatable until Chestnut took the Mustard Belt in a surprise victory in 2007.

They ate at the same table until 2010, when Kobayashi bailed out of the Nathan’s contest citing a contract dispute and was arrested when he rushed the stage after the competition ended.

Last year, the eater from Japan scheduled a simultaneous hot dog-eating exhibition, where he established a contested world record of 69 HDBs at a Manhattan lounge. Hours after the Coney Island contest ended, Kobayashi took the stage at the hip pizzeria Roberta’s in Bushwick for a contest sponsored by the hot dog shop Crif Dogs.

This photograph best captures the feeding frenzy that is the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Competition.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Unlike last year, he ate alongside other competitors — but none were in his league.

When time ran out, officials from the world record website RecordSetter.com ruled that Kobayshi had consumed 68 HDBs. But after website founder Dan Rollman consulted with Kobayshi’s representative Maggie James, officials revised their ruling — pointing out that the eater had actually managed to swallow an extra dog, but not its bun.

He later said he had just hoped to eat 55 HDBs, but then he got fired up.

“I just got excited,” he said.

Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas cruised to her second win on the women’s side of Nathan’s.
Photo by Paul Martinka