GALLERY: San Jose’s hot dog eating champion attempts ninth win

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Jose native and reigning champion Joey Chestnut will attempt to eat his way into his ninth consecutive win at the nearly century-old annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest at New York’s Coney Island.

Chestnut and other competitors, including Matt Stonie, also from San Jose, weighed in Friday ahead of the annual Nathan’s Famous hot dog swallowing competition — a 99-year-old Independence Day boardwalk tradition.

Matt Stonie, another San Jose native and Chestnut’s biggest competition, won second place in 2014, trailing the champion by only 6 hot dogs.

Saturday morning, defending women’s champion Miki Sudo captured the women’s division with a flourish that emphasized strategy rather than condiments. The men’s competition is being held later Saturday.

Sudo, from Las Vegas, ate 38 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to claim the coveted title for the second straight year, along with the $10,000 that comes with it. She retained the coveted mustard yellow winner’s championship belt after downing four more wieners than last year and besting Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas of Alexandria, Virginia, who devoured 31 hot dogs.

Sudo employed a successful strategy of eating the hot dogs separately from the buns and swallowing the buns after first dipping them in Crystal Light.

Despite the very light rain that fell off and on before the event got underway, more than 30,000 were expected to witness the feeding frenzy. The colorful holiday tradition continues to draw its share of characters. Someone walked around dressed as a giant hot dog. The spectacle also included a few chanting animal welfare protesters bearing anti-meat signs adorned with fake blood.

The event’s security included police dogs that apparently were not thrown off by the scent of the grilled meat.

Friday, Chestnut tipped the scales at a hearty 230 pounds while Michelle Lesco ranked the lightest competitor at 112 pounds. New Zealand native Nela Zisser, at 114 pounds, says she can out-eat her male counterparts. She previously won a pizza eating contest.

The event also featured a ceremonial stare down between the competitors.

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