NEW YORK (AP) — Competitive eaters prove that size does not always matter.
The top four contestants in the annual Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island weighed in Thursday with seven-time champ Joey Chestnut tilting the scales at a solid 205 pounds, 75 more than his top competitor, Matt Stonie, who finished second last year.
Chestnut hopes to demolish his competition by downing 70 hot dogs in just 10 minutes Friday.
Two-time female champion Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, at a mere 100 pounds, will try to eat more than 45 hot dogs to defend her title against 115-pound Miki Sudo.
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.
To prepare, the top competitors said they were fasting Thursday. But Irish contestant Colin Shirlow grabbed a free hot dog during the weigh-in to get a first taste of the Nathan’s Famous dogs he’ll have to consume come crunch time.
Thomas said last year she made a strategic mistake that kept her from matching her 45-dog record but has learned her lesson. Sudo, meanwhile, said she will go to the gym at 5 a.m. to work up an appetite.
Chestnut, a full-time professional eater who earns between $150,000 and $230,000 a year, said he will have a lot of caffeine before the event and then fast for two to three days after the contest to recover.
Stonie said he’s trained his body to know how to react.
“It’ll probably be a few months before I eat another hot dog,” Stonie said.
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