July 3, 2011 in Nation/World

Hot dog contest adds women’s class

Verena Dobnik Associated Press

NEW YORK – This year’s Fourth of July race to stuff your face with hot dogs has a new women-only pigout.

“Serena Williams didn’t have to beat Roger Federer to win the Wimbledon title, and we don’t think Sonya Thomas should have to beat Joey Chestnut,” said master of ceremonies George Shea.

Thomas, known as The Black Widow of competitive eating, set a women’s world record July 4, 2009, by stuffing 41 hot dogs into her 105-pound frame in 10 minutes.

Thomas and eight other women will compete Monday on Coney Island just before the men’s stomach-churning Nathan’s Famous hot dog feast, which this year again features world champion Chestnut. The 27-year-old ate his way to a fourth consecutive championship last year by downing 54 dogs for the $20,000 purse.

Notably absent again this year is his chief rival, Takeru Kobayashi, who held the world record for hot dog eating from 2001 to 2007 but plans his own eating contest on a Manhattan rooftop seven miles away.

Three Chinese contenders flew in from Beijing to join the competition, which will be televised live on ESPN.

Although women don’t compete directly against men in most sports, Shea said, Thomas has beaten Chestnut in the past. She ate 181 chicken wings to his 169 during the National Buffalo Wing Festival last September.

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