Defending champion wins women’s hot dog eating competition

Miki Sudo competes in Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest woman's competition, Monday, July 4, 2016, in New York. Sudo came in first eating 38.5 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK (AP) — Defending champion Miki Sudo will hold onto her coveted pink championship belt after winning the women’s division of the annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island on Monday.

The Las Vegas woman scarfed down 38 1/2 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to claim the championship title — and the $10,000 that comes with it — for the third straight year.

Sudo, 30, downed 4 1/2 more wieners than prior champion Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas, 48, of Alexandria, Virginia, who devoured 34 hot dogs. Thomas had held the championship title from 2011 until she lost in an upset to Sudo in 2014.

Sudo told ESPN, which aired the event, she had prepared harder this year because she feared Thomas would try to best her.

Thousands of people — many wearing Nathan’s Famous hats — gathered along the famed Coney Island boardwalk to watch the contest. The men’s competition is later Saturday.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut will be vying to regain the title this year and will face off against defending champ Matt “The Megatoad” Stonie. Chestnut set the world record in 2013 when he polished off 69 dogs in 10 minutes. His run of eight straight victories ended last year when he lost the Mustard Yellow International Belt in an upset.

The colorful holiday tradition draws its share of characters. Many in the crowd wore foam hats shaped like hot dogs. One man held a sign that read: “Make America Eat Again,” a play on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

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