On an 82-degree day in Coney Island, Brooklyn, some 40,000 people gathered at the corner of Surf and Stillwell for the 2012 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Wednesday had potential for history, and Joey Chestnut delivered. He tied Takeru Kobayashi's record of six consecutive victories in this classic Fourth of July event.
"I'm hungry. I'm loose. I'm empty," said the 28-year-old Chestnut before taking the stage.
The field of contenders included among Gravy Brown, Tim "Eater X" Janus, Bob Shoudt, Matt "Megatoad" Stone and last year's runner-up Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti.
Major League Eating president George Shea and the crowd counted down and the 10-minute contest was on. Bertoletti jumped out to a single hot dog lead after the first minute. But Chestnut began to pull away from the pack around the halfway point up six.
The rush to the finish was filled with shaking, jumping and anything else these athletes could think of to help get their hot dogs down. But no one would come close to the defending champ who is appropriately nicknamed Jaws.
Chestnut captured his sixth straight Mustard Belt, tying Kobayashi's dominant streak from 2001 to 2006, by eating a staggering 68 hot dogs. Janus came 16 hot dogs and buns short with Bertoletti finishing in third with 51. Although the winning number matches Chestnut's world record from 2009, after the contest he said he felt bad for the crowd.
"I wanted to give them a new record," he lamented. "Maybe next year."
Still, no one could be disappointed with the performances Chestnut has displayed over more than a half decade at Coney Island.
In his six victories he has consumed an astonishing 377 hot dogs and buns.
Before Chestnut's victory, the women's competition kicked off first with a lot on the line for Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas. She entered the day as the defending champion, having won the first ever women's only event last year. Despite her victory in 2011, she fell short of her personal best of 41 hot dogs and buns by a single frank. At the start on Wednesday, it appeared Thomas and Juliet Lee would be neck and neck, but with five minutes left the Black Widow pulled away leaving all thirteen of her adversaries in the dust.
"I had my own goal, 45," Thomas told sideline reporter Renee Herlocker after her victory. "I was going to try to shoot for that."
And that's right where she finished with a new women's record and her second pink Pepto Bismol Belt.
-- Adam Watson is the food czar at ThePostGame. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamKWatson.
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