Joey Chestnut wins hot dog contest

Updated: July 4, 2012, 10:03 PM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Joey Chestnut did it again.

Chestnut tied his own world record, devouring 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes to capture his sixth consecutive Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Wednesday afternoon on Brooklyn's Coney Island.

Chestnut, a 28-year-old from San Jose, Calif., who is better known as "Jaws," also ate 68 hot dogs in 2009. He has won every Mustard Belt since 2007, and took home $10,000 for his efforts Wednesday.

"It feels great that I was able to tie the world record without anybody really pushing me," Chestnut said.

[+] EnlargeJoey Chestnut
AP Photo/John MinchilloJoey Chestnut ate 68 hot dogs to win his sixth straight contest at Coney Island.

Temperatures were sweltering outside -- pushing into the 90s -- but Chestnut was able to persevere through them. He was just upset he didn't establish a personal best.

"Everybody else was out here persevering through the heat and supporting me," Chestnut said. "I might as well push myself. It's only 10 minutes worth of work. I might as well push as hard as I can."

Chestnut thought he could break his own world record at the end of the second minute.

"I had a really bad minute four and five, but I almost caught up at the end. I'm a little bummed out that I didn't get to 70," Chestnut said.

Tim Janus took home second place with 52 hot dogs and made $5,000.

Chestnut and former rival, Takeru Kobayashi, are tied with six wins each at the event. Kobayashi, who was banned from the competition two years ago after refusing to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, competed in a different eating contest on Wednesday.

Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas broke her own women's world record, devouring 45 hot dogs.

"I'm going to be 45, so I wanted to eat my age," said Thomas, the defending champion.

Thomas set her old mark, 41, in 2009.

Juliet Lee finished second behind Thomas with 33 hot dogs.

The Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has been a city tradition for 97 years. Tens of thousands of spectators gather to gawk as contestants shimmy, slither and bounce as they dip hot dogs in water and cram them down their throats.

For some, it's a painful reminder of excess -- especially as the U.S. battles a growing obesity problem. The American Medical Association opposes competitive eating, saying it's harmful to the human body. But the competitive eaters are quite trim. Chestnut is more than 6 feet tall and a muscly 210 pounds, and Thomas, who is 5-foot-5, weighed in at barely 100 pounds.

Hot dogs, though, aren't the healthiest of choices. In addition to beef, they include salt and various food additives. Chestnut's total dog count was equal to more than 20,000 calories. This year, the animal rights group Mercy For Animals staged a protest against eating meat, with signs that read "Choose Vegetarian."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer