NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Competitive eaters prove that size does not always matter.
The top four contestants in the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island weighed in Thursday with seven-time champ Joey “Jaws” Chestnut tilting the scales at a solid 205 pounds — 75 more than his top competitor, 22-year-old Matt Stonie, who finished second last year.
Stonie noted that he has beaten Chestnut four times “in the past year or so” — although those contests didn’t involve hot dogs.
“So I know he’s beatable,” Stonie told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “He just trains really hard for this event. So it’ll come down to what happens tomorrow. We’ll see.”
Chestnut, who earns between $150,000 and $230,000 a year through competitive eating, hopes to demolish his competition by downing 72 hot dogs in just 10 minutes Friday. Last year, Chestnut scarfed down 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes, setting a new world record.
“I’m fasting right now,” Chestnut told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria. “I’ll fast all the way up to the contest. I’ll be nice and empty. Lots of liquids today.”
“Two pieces of meat, then two wet buns,” the champ said. “Do the same thing over and over again. Try to control my breathing. Get my hands, my throat, my esophagus all working in unison.”
The winner takes home the mustard belt and $10,000.
Two-time female champion Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, at a mere 100 lbs, will try to eat more than 45 hot dogs to defend her title against 115-pound Miki Sudo.
Last year, Thomas devoured 36 3/4 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
More: NYC’s 6 Best Hot Dogs
“I like the competition,” Thomas told 1010 WINS on Wednesday. “Regularly, I don’t eat fast. I just slowly eat. But the competition does matter to how much you eat.”
She prepares for the contest by expanding her stomach.
“I try to drink a lot of liquid with my meal to stretch my stomach, and before the competition, like maybe 24 hours, 36 hours, I try to empty out my stomach,” Thomas said.
Sudo, meanwhile, said she will go to the gym at 5 a.m. to work up an appetite.
The top four stared each other down at the weigh-in for dramatic effect as Mayor Bill de Blasio presided — although he joked he was just in it for the free hot dog.
Thirteen women and 17 men will compete Friday before a live crowd of about 30,000 and a TV audience of about 1 million.
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