Chestnut top dog at Nathans for sixth time

Jul 4, 2012 8:39 PM

Joey Chestnut ate his way to a sixth straight win at the Fourth of July hot dog eating contest at Brooklyn’s Coney Island on Wednesday, downing 68 to tie his personal best in a sweaty, gag-inducing spectacle.

Last year, the 28-year-old San Jose, Calif., man nicknamed “Jaws” won with 62 hot dogs. He bested his main rival this year by 16 dogs, scarfing down all 68 in 10 minutes in the sweltering summer heat to take home $10,000 and the mustard yellow belt.

“I feel good, it was a great win,” Chestnut said after the contest, adding he wished he could have eaten a record number of hot dogs for the audience. “I tried my best. I’m looking forward to next year already.”

Second place went to Tim Janus of New York with 52 hot dogs, who received $5,000. Third place went to Patrick Bertoletti of Chicago with 51, who won $2,500.

Sonya Thomas, of Alexandria, Va., downed 45 wieners to win the women’s competition. She reached her goal of eating 45 in the time limit – her age – and took home her own pink champion’s belt and $10,000.

Thomas, known as the “Black Widow” of competitive eating, won last year as well, the first time a separate contest was held for women. Juliet Lee, of Germantown, Md., took second place with 33 and won $5,000. Lee also won second place last year.

The Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has been a city tradition in New York for 97 years. Las Vegas hosts an annual Nathans Famous qualifier in late April near the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York Hotel & Casino.