For the first time ever, Nathan’s Famous’ annual July 4th hot dog eating contest had a women’s division competition. Korean American Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas made history by eating 40 hot dogs in 10 minutes, beating out her past main rival, Juliet Lee (who ate 29 hot dogs) and winning $10,000 and the “pink belt.”
“I’m thirsty, but I’m happy,” she said. “This year they have a women’s division so I have a champion’s belt. But I competed with the men and I didn’t have a chance to get a belt. Now I have a chance to get a pink belt so I’m very happy about that.”
Thomas has competed competitively with the men in the annual contest, but with a growing number of women entering competitive eating, Nathan’s apparently thought there was a good opportunity to expand and promote the ‘sport.’ I was just disappointed that ESPN didn’t broadcast the women’s event – not even via Internet streaming! But apparently CNN covered the event.
In the men’s division, San Jose, California native Joey Chesnut won his 5th straight title after downing 62 hot dogs, short his 2009 record of 68 hot dogs. Takeru Kobayashi, who has refused to join the official “Major League Eating” and was absent from Nathan’s Famous’s competition competed remotely and supposedly set a new world record, which will go unrecognized. If you missed the competition, you can catch it here.
What I was most amused was that when the three Chinese winners from the divisional competition were introduced, there was booing in the crowd – kind of reminded me when Soviet boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV enters the ring and is booed. None of the Chinese ‘gurgitators’ were ever within striking distance of placing within the top three. Fears of an era of a “Rising Bun” (pun intended) have been exaggerated. You can catch the crowd chanting “USA! USA! USA!” around minute 4:16 in this video.
You may be thinking that this whole competitive eating contest is a joke, but apparently Nathan’s Famous is laughing all the way to the bank. In the past seven years, the company’s revenues have soared by more than 90% while the stock has tripled!