By Mathew Murphy
NEW YORK (Reuters) - In an annual Fourth of July rite of indigestion, champion hot dog-eater Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut matched his own world record by chowing down 68 wieners and buns in just 10 minutes on Wednesday at New York's Coney Island.
More than 40,000 spectators, some dressed as hot dogs, ketchup and mustard bottles, watched Chestnut out-eat his competition by almost 16 hot dogs to take home his sixth straight Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog-Eating title on the U.S. Independence Day holiday.
"I came here hoping I could do 70 (hot dogs), but I am happy with 68. It is a world record after all and I will be back next year to see if I can go one better," said the 28-year-old Chestnut from San Jose, California.
"I pushed my body to the absolute limit. I know I did my best. Now I really need a drink to try and rehydrate."
Fans did see a new world record in the women's competition, where Sonya Thomas, dubbed "The Black Widow," consumed 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes to top the previous record of 41 she set in 2009.
"I am going to be 45 years old this year. I wanted to eat my age," said Thomas, from Alexandria, Virginia, who is also the world champion for eating the most oysters, chicken wings, turkey, crawfish and clams in a specific time.
Thomas, who weighs just 100 pounds (45 kg), topped her rivals by 12 hot dogs. She and Chestnut each won $10,000. The July 4 hot dog-eating competition began in 1916, according to Nathan's Famous website.
On Tuesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg watched the 29 contestants weigh in for the competition. Known for his health initiatives that include a plan to reduce the size of sugary drinks, Bloomberg said eating in moderation was the key.
"Having it (a hot dog) occasionally is fine," he said. "If you want to eat 65 hot dogs in 10 minutes, that's even fine. Just don't do it more than once a year and you won't have a problem."
(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Peter Cooney)