A historic first: NY's Nathan's welcomes women to hot dog eating contest
Female competitive eaters are looking forward to the dog days of summer--with Nathan's Famous hot dogs, that is.
For the first time in its 96-year history, Nathan's historic Fourth of July hot dog eating contest will feature a women's division. Though women have competed in the general contest against male colleagues, no woman has ever won the top prize--a payday worth $10,000 for the guy or gal who can scarf down the most buns and wieners in 10 minutes.
The women's hot dog eating contest will go down at the historic Nathan's Famous stand in Coney Island July 4th, just before the men's competition. For both men's and women's divisions, winners from each qualifying round--a series that kicked off in Las Vegas April 23--will have a chance to compete in the Coney Island finale.
"Each year we see more and more women entering our qualifying events in the hopes of making it to Coney Island. We surely have had some impressive female eaters compete on July 4th, so we're introducing the new round to give female competitors the notoriety they deserve," said Wayne Norbitz, president and COO of Nathan's Famous, Inc.
According to Nathan's, its Fourth of July hot dog eating contest has been an Independence Day tradition since a group of immigrants challenged one another to prove their patriotism by gobbling Nathan's hot dogs. Legend says that Irishman Ed Mullen, who ate 13 dogs in 12 minutes, won.
A favorite has already emerged in the women's field: Sonya "The Black Window" Thomas of Alexandria, VA, ranked fourth in the world according to Major League Eating, the governing body of Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contests. The Black Widow's personal best is 41 dogs and buns in 10 minutes, a hurdle the other players will need to clear to win the kielbasa crown. On April 23, Thomas earned a nemesis in Vegas qualifying winner Stephanie Torres, who snarfed 23 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to grab a spot on the Coney Island boardwalk.
They'll need to up their game to equal the competitive eating prowess of four-time defending champ Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, who downed 54 dogs and buns in the 2010 contest.
No word on whether the ladies soak the buns in water to ease swallowing like legendary wiener wolfer Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi. But the women's division winner will likely walk away with a version of the championship Mustard Belt.
Sonya Thomas prior to eating 46 mince pies in 10 minutes at an eating contest in the UK:
Stephanie Torres, after completing the B3 burrito challenge (she had held the record for finishing the 2 foot long, 6 pound burrito in 38 minutes until it was beaten this past January, the record stood for 9 months):
What that plate looked like at the start: