CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Joey Chestnut has won the men's title at Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest for the 15th time.
Chestnut downed 63 franks and buns in 10 minutes, short of his record 76 hot dogs consumed last year.
"It's beautiful to be back here" in front of a throng of spectators, the Westfield, Indiana, resident Chestnut told ESPN after his feat, which the 38-year-old managed while wearing a surgical boot because of a leg injury.
"It hurts, but I was in the zone for a little bit. I was ignoring it," said Chestnut, but the pain eventually slowed his pace in the 10-minute competition.
Geoffrey Esper finished second with 47.5 dogs eaten.
On the women's side, record-holder Miki Sudo won back the title after skipping last year's frank fest because she was pregnant.
"I knew I was excited to come back, but the feeling that you get once you're actually here is not like anything else," Sudo said on ESPN after downing 40 wieners and buns in 10 minutes. That was short of her 2020 record, but still well ahead of runner-up Michelle Lesco, the 2021 winner.
Lesco downed 26 dogs.
Sudo, of Tampa, Florida, and Nick Wehry - a fellow competitive eater whom she met through the Nathan's contest in 2018 - welcomed son Max on July 8, 2021.
From dad's arms, the baby watched his 36-year-old mother notch her eighth Nathan's win. She told ESPN afterward that she hoped he would someday take a message away from it.
"I want to set an example," she said, "to do things that you love and push yourself to your absolute limits and, when things get difficult, to still give it a try. And, you know, you might actually just come out victorious."
Monday marked a return for the contest to its traditional location outside Nathan's flagship shop at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island. The event was relocated in 2020 and last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tens of thousands attended the contest.
What to know about the biggest day in stomach-centric sports, according to Nathan's Famous:
- Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest has been held in Coney Island every 4th of July since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant, according to Major League Eating archives. Irish immigrant Jim Mullen won with 13 hot dogs and buns.
- Winning his 14th title, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut set a new record in 2021 after eating 76 hot dogs and buns in the 10-minute contest.
- Chestnut, of San Jose, California, won his first title in 2007 after downing 66 "HDBs," dethroning Japan's Takeru Kobayashi.
- Miki Sudo, the number-one-ranked woman in the hot dog-eating world, set the women's record in 2020 with 48 hot dogs and buns. She missed the contest the following year due to her pregnancy.
- Winners are crowned with the coveted Mustard Yellow International Belt, its age unknown.
- The 1920s saw alternating victories between Queens' Stan Libnitz and Brooklyn's Andrew Rudman until 1928 when Rudman won by half a frank. Libnitz allegedly accused Rudman of elbowing him in the stomach during their face-off, according to Nathan's, citing oral accounts.
- The event was canceled in 1941 in protest of World War II.
- In 2004, Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas became the first woman to eat more than 30 dogs and buns.
- Nathan's Famous donates 100,000 hot dogs to the Food Bank for New York City prior to each year's event.
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