Crowd Relishes Hot Dog Eating Contest

It wouldn't be the Fourth of July holiday without a hot dog eating contest. The 38th Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest was held on Coney Island Thursday. Joey Chestnut won the men's division and Sonya Thomas was the women's champion.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Another annual Independence Day tradition took place on Coney Island: the 38th Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Joey. Joey. Joey.

MONTAGNE: Something like 40,000 people cheered on the winner. Joey Chestnut broke his own world record, downing 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Once just a quirky holiday event, competitive hot dog eating now draws big crowds and bite-by- bite coverage on ESPN.

(SOUNDBITE OF 38TH NATHAN'S HOTDOG EATING CONTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Joey Chestnut ate seven in a row.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Such (unintelligible).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Joey Chestnut, unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Unbelievable finish.

MONTAGNE: Unbelievable. And the winner of the women's contest, Sonya Thomas. She took the crown by eating 45 hot dogs. At just 98 pounds, Sonya Thomas is an unlikely competitor. But even before the contests were divided by gender, she said she held her own.

SONYA THOMAS: When I competed with men, I never won the first place. The highest one I get is second. But when they separate divisions, I got three straight wins, competition.

MONTAGNE: The secret to her success?

THOMAS: You know what? I like to compete, and I love to eat, too.

(LAUGHTER)

MONTAGNE: Along with the glory, the winners each took home a $10,000 prize, which should cover the costs of the antacids they'll be needing.

It's MORNING EDITION.

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