Bertoletti, Sudo win top dog honors at Nathan’s Famous power-eating contest

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NEW YORK (AP) — Patrick Bertoletti gobbled up 58 hot dogs to win his first men’s title Thursday at the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, taking advantage of the absence of the event’s biggest star. In the women’s competition, defending champion Miki Sudo won her 10th title and set a new world record by downing 51 links.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, the reigning men’s champion and winner of 16 out of 17 previous competitions, didn’t attend this year over a sponsorship tiff. Instead he competed later in the day against four soldiers at a U.S. Army base in El Paso, Texas, where he wolfed down 57 hot dogs in five minutes.

Bertoletti, 39, of Chicago, won in a tight, 10-minute race where the leader bounced back and forth, defeating 13 competitors from around the world. He said he lost weight and practiced for three months with “an urgency” to prepare for the event, thinking he had a good chance of winning.

“With Joey not here, I knew I had a shot,” Bertoletti said. “I was able to unlock something that I don’t know where it came from.”

Bertoletti bested his prior record of 55 hot dogs at the event, which is held every Independence Day on New York’s Coney Island, a beachfront destination with amusement parks and a carnivalesque summer culture.

Earlier, in the women’s competition, Sudo, a 38-year-old dental hygiene student from Florida, once again carried the day and set the new record a year after forcing down 39 1/2 hot dogs in 2023.

“I’m just happy to call this mine for another year,” Sudo said after winning the pink belt.

Sudo defeated 13 competitors, including 28-year-old rival Mayoi Ebihara of Japan, who came in second after eating 37 hot dogs. She was also the runner-up in 2023.

Sudo also outdid her partner, former Florida bodybuilder Nicholas Wehry, who ate 46 hot dogs in the men’s competition.

Bertoletti’s victory marks the first time the famed mustard belt has gone to someone besides Chestnut since 2015.

Thousands of fans, some wearing foam hot dog hats, flock each year to the event held outside the original Nathan’s location in Coney Island. Rich Shea, CEO of event organizer Major League Eating, noted how people still came out in droves even though Chestnut was not there.

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