U.S. once again celebrates Independence Day with feeding frenzy
The annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is a curious beast -- a spectacle of porcine gluttony staged amid a pro-wrestling-style atmopshere, complete with hooting and hollering fans.
Held each year in Coney Isand, New York, it's a strangely fulfilling way to punctuate the United States' July 4th birthday.
Nathan's is among the biggest event for "gurgitators," or competitive eaters, but it's by no means the only regulated pig out. Check out this list of 19 awesome eating contests from HLN.
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Although various legends claim the Nathan's event dates to 1916 (some say the claim is untrue), official records start from the 1970s, when chowing down a single hot dog per minute was the benchmark.
That pace won't even get you into the contest today.
This year's champion, Joey Chestnut, won the event for the sixth time yesterday by downing 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes -- or one hot dog in less than every 10 seconds -- tying his own world record.
Chestnut out-ate runner-up Tim Janus by 16 dogs.
Chestnut, 28, is now tied with former champion Takeru Kobayashi for consecutive wins.
The Japanese eater has not participatd in the event for several years since refusing to sign a contract with the IFOCE, an organization that regulates major eating contests around the world.
Kobayashi came to fame when he shocked the United States by snatching the championship belt from American eaters from 2001 to 2006.
His fame attracted live broadcasters and countless spectators to the event, as well as healthy criticism.
Last year's female champion, Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas, bested 13 contestants this year by gobbling 45 hot dogs in the women’s competition.
Despite her slim figure (she's only 45 kilos), Thomas managed to eat 12 hot dogs more than runner-up Juliet Lee, a former chemistry professor from China.
Thomas, the sixth-ranked eater in the world, is known for beating male eaters in various eating contests, including out-eating Chestnut in a chicken wings contest and Kobayashi in fruit cakes.
In addition to the championship belt (mustard yellow for men, pink for women), each Nathan's winner takes home US$10,000.
Overheard on CNN.com: Why gorge on hot dogs when people are starving?