Defending champion Miki Sudo wins women’s division of Nathan’s annual hot dog eating contest

NEW YORK (AP) — Florida dental hygiene student Miki Sudo has won her 10th title at the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest.

Sudo ate 51 hot dogs in 10 minutes in New York City on Thursday, setting a new world record for women.

“I’m just happy to call this my own for another year,” Sudo said after winning her 10th pink belt.

The 38-year-old reigning champion won last year after wolfing down 39 1/2 hot dogs, beating out 13 competitors from around the world, including 28-year-old rival Mayoi Ebihara of Japan. Ebihara came in second after eating 37 hot dogs in 10 minutes. She was also the runner-up in 2023.

With the event’s biggest star — Joey “Jaws” Chestnut — out of the race this year, Sudo’s result sets up a potential scenario in which the women’s champion defeats the men’s winner. Geoffrey Esper, who finished second last year, also has a personal best of 51, but only ate 49 last year.

Chestnut, who has won 16 of the previous 17 games, will not attend the game due to a sponsorship dispute. Instead, he will compete against soldiers at a U.S. military base in El Paso later in the day. That leaves the traditional Brooklyn event wide open for a new winner in the men’s division, with eaters from around the world competing on Independence Day to see how many hot dogs they can eat in 10 minutes.

Thousands of fans flock to the event each year, held outside the original Nathan’s location on Brooklyn’s Coney Island, a beach destination with amusement parks and a carnival-like summer culture. ESPN will broadcast the game live. The men’s game will begin at approximately 12:20 p.m.

Contestants come from more than a dozen states and five continents, with hopefuls from Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia and the Czech Republic vying for the coveted title and $10,000 prize money.

“There will be a new champion,” Australian James Webb, who holds the world record for eating 70 doughnuts in eight minutes, said Wednesday at a preview event in New York.

Last year Chestnutfrom Indiana, fought his way to the title by eating 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The record, set in 2021, is 76.

“I’m going to push myself,” Sudo said Wednesday. Her rival Mayoi Ebihara of Japan said through an interpreter that she would eat until she passed out, with the goal of eating 50 hot dogs.

Chestnut was initially not invited of the event due to a sponsorship agreement with Impossible Foods, a company specializing in plant-based meat substitutes.

Major League Eating, the organizer of the Nathan’s Famous contest, has since said it has lifted the ban, but Chestnut decided to spend the holidays with the troops anyway.

Chestnut said he would not return to the Coney Island game without an apology.

The event at Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, starting at 5 p.m. ET, will feature traditional sausages, with Chestnut attempting to eat four soldiers in five minutes.

Even though he won’t be eating its vegan products, Impossible Foods is promoting Chestnut’s YouTube livestream of the exhibit by flying planes carrying banners over Los Angeles and Miami. The company will also donate to an organization that supports military families based on the number of hot dogs eaten at the event, a spokesperson said.

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