Joey wins 5th Nathan's belt - Sonya claims first-ever Women's title


Coney Island, July 5, 2011 — Joey Chestnut of San Jose, CA and Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas of Alexandria, VA earned the titles of Men’s and Women’s Hot Dog Eating World Champions yesterday at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, held annually at the original Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island.

Chestnut, the #1-ranked eater in the world, returned to the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues to claim his fifth straight Nathan’s Famous title by devouring 62 hot dogs and buns in the 10-minute, all-you-can-eat contest. He edged out Chicago’s Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, who came in second place with 53 hot dogs and buns, and New York City’s Tim “Eater X” Janus who ate 45 hot dogs and buns for third. Bob “Notorious B.O.B.” Shoudt of Royersford, PA captured fourth with 39 and Sean “Flash” Gordon of Downingtown, PA and 18-year-old Matt Stonie of San Jose, CA tied for fifth with 34.

In the first-ever Women’s Championship, which occurred just prior to the men’s contest, Thomas downed 40 hot dogs and buns for the win. Juliet Lee, a mother of two from Germantown, MD placed second with 29.5 hot dogs and buns, and rookie Stephanie Torres of Las Cruces, NM took home third with 28.5 hot dogs and buns. Fourth prize went to Michelle Lesco of Tucson, AZ who ate 20 and Larell Marie Mele of Long Pond, PA captured fifth prize with 16.

The event has been held each year since 1916 and for the first time ever, male and female eaters competed separately for the titles of Men’s Hot Dog Eating World Champion and Women’s Hot Dog Eating World Champion. The contests offered a total of $40,000 in cash prizes.

The 2011 Men’s and Women’s Championships took place at the original Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island where nearly 30,000 eating fans and July Fourth revelers watched the contest. The event has become part of the fabric of America’s annual July Fourth celebration, and was once again televised live on ESPN from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EST and streamed online at from 11:30 a.m.

“Nathan’s Famous congratulates our first-ever Women’s Champion, Sonya Thomas and our Men’s Champion Joey Chestnut for his fifth straight win,” said Wayne Norbitz, president and COO of Nathan’s Famous, Inc. “This year we were thrilled to have added the Women’s Championship and to welcome competitors from China for the very first time.”

The competitors earned their seats at the finals by winning one of a dozen qualifying rounds that occurred in May and June throughout the U.S. and in Beijing, China. At yesterday’s contest, a total of 17 male competitors battled for the coveted Mustard Yellow Belt, considered the “World Cup” of Major League Eating. Yat Ming Lam, Lu Ming Kui, and Tai Loi Mak, representing China, were also among the contenders. Nine women competed in the Women’s Championship.

Nathan’s Famous products are currently distributed in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Cayman Islands and six foreign countries through its restaurant system, foodservice sales programs and retail licensing activities. The Nathan’s restaurant system currently consists of 269 units, comprised of 264 franchised or licensed units and five company-owned units (including one seasonal unit). Nathan’s hot dogs are sold in over 40,000 retail and foodservice locations. For additional information about Nathan’s visit For more information about Major League Eating, visit