CONEY ISLAND — Defending champions devoured the competition at the Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest Thursday.
Last year's winners Joey "Jaws" Chestnut and Sonya "the Black Widow" Thomas triumphed again over 14 men and eight women in front of thousands of fans outside Nathan's Famous in Coney Island.
Chestnut ate a whopping 69 franks to retain the "mustard yellow belt" for the seventh straight year, breaking his own 2009 record of 68 hot dogs — passing the threshold with just one second left on the 10-minute clock.
"Once I hit nine minutes, I knew I could do it," Chestnut said. "People say I abuse my body, but I really respect my body and I'm really in tune with it."
Earlier in the day, Thomas, the number three ranked eater in the world who holds more than 25 world eating records, fell short of her own record of 45 hot dogs which was set at last year's competition.
The women's competition also came down to the wire, as Thomas and contender Juliet Lee ran neck-and-neck.
At the end of 10 minutes, the two competitors were tied with 36 hot dogs eaten. To break the tie, the judges counted a mostly-eaten hot dog of Thomas', and she won by an official score of 36-and-three-quarters to 36.
Both contestants said they would probably have a light dinner.