Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest: Joey Chestnut Wins Men's Title With 71 Hot Dogs

With Independence Day comes the freedom to eat as many hotdogs as humanly possible, as Joey Chestnut did during Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Thursday at Coney Island. Chestnut took the crown for the 12th time, competing against the likes of Geoffrey Esper, Matt Stonie and 15 others.

Chestnut is an 11-time champion of the event, winning last year's Mustard Belt by downing a record of 74 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. His longtime foe, Japan's Takeru Kobayashi, no longer takes part in the contest.

"I was going for 75," Chestnut told ESPN. "I always love to get a new record. Everybody here wanted a new record. Hopefully next year, I'll come back and find a way to do it ... I came out fast and then I slowed down faster than I would have liked. I tried to adjust but I was just slowing down."

The 71 consumed hot dogs on Thursday means that Chestnut has consumed more than 70 four times in the event.

“I feel good,” Chestnut said before the event. “I’m just going to find a rhythm. I’m capable of it. Hopefully a couple of things fall into place. I’m trying to control every variable that I can, and we’ll see what happens.”

In addition to his new hot dog eating title, Chestnut also holds record eating titles for bratwurst, hard-boiled eggs, pork rolls, steak, matzoh balls, shrimp cocktail, deep-fried asparagus, pork ribs and mutton.

Meanwhile, on the women's side, Miki Sudo, 33, defended her title with her sixth win in the contest — coming in hot with 31 hot dogs. She beat Michelle Lesco, who came in second last year and is the No. 2-ranked female Eater in the World; Juliet Lee, who's known for being the Wold Jellied Cranberry Sauce Eating Champion (13.23 pounds in eight minutes), and 12 others.

Sudo, a New York native, fell short of her total last year of 37 frankfurters, but easily beat runner up Lesco, who wolfed down just 26 hot dogs. Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas holds the all-time women's record of 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

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Spectators with foam hot dog hats, plastic noisemakers and homemade signs descend upon the iconic boardwalk at Coney Island for both contests.

"I'm super grateful for everybody who came out here to support," Sudo said.