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

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

Sudo consumed 51 hot dogs in 10 minutes on Thursday in New York City — and set a new world record for women.

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

The 38-year-old defending champion last year won after forcing down 39 1/2 hot dogs. She defeated 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 contest this year, Sudo’s result set up a possible scenario in which the women’s champ out-eats the men’s winner. Geoffrey Esper, who came second last year, also has a personal best of 51, but only ate 49 last year.

Chestnut, who won 16 out of the previous 17 contests, isn’t attending the competition over a sponsorship tiff. Instead, he’ll compete against soldiers at a U.S. Army 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 America’s Independence Day to see how many hot dogs they can eat in 10 minutes.

Thousands of fans flock each year to the event held outside the original Nathan’s location in Brooklyn’s Coney Island, a beachfront destination with amusement parks and a carnivalesque summer culture. ESPN is broadcasting the contest live. The men’s will begin at approximately 12:20 p.m.

Competitors are coming from over a dozen states and five continents, with prospects from Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia and the Czech Republic vying for the coveted title and $10,000 prize money.

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

Last year Chestnut, of Indiana, chewed his way to the title by downing 62 dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The record, which he set in 2021, is 76.

“I’m going to be pushing myself,” Sudo said Wednesday. Her rival Mayoi Ebihara, from Japan, said through a translator that she would eat until she passes out, with a goal of downing 50 hot dogs.

Chestnut was initially disinvited from the event over a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods, a company that specializes in plant-based meat substitutes.

Major League Eating, which organizes the Nathan’s Famous contest, has since said it walked back the ban, but Chestnut decided to spend the holiday with the troops anyway.

Chestnut said he wouldn’t return to the Coney Island contest without an apology.

The event at the Fort Bliss army base in El Paso, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, will use traditional franks, with Chestnut attempting to out-eat four soldiers in five minutes.

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

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