NEW YORK — In a decisive chow-down comeback, record-holder Miki Sudo won the women’s title at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest Monday after skipping last year’s frank fest because she was pregnant.
“I knew I was excited to come back, but the feeling that you get once you’re actually here is not like anything else,” Sudo said on ESPN after downing 40 wieners and buns in 10 minutes. That was short of her 2020 record, but still well ahead of runner-up Michelle Lesco, the 2021 winner.
The men’s competition, featuring record-holder Joey Chestnut, was due later Monday.
Monday marked a return not just for Sudo but for the contest itself, which was back at its traditional location outside Nathan’s flagship shop in Brooklyn’s Coney Island neighborhood. The event was relocated in 2020 and last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sudo, of Tampa, Florida, set the women’s record at 48 1/2 weiners and buns in 2020, before taking last year off while expecting. She and Nick Wehry — a fellow competitive eater whom she met through the Nathan’s contest in 2018 — welcomed son Max on July 8, 2021.
From dad’s arms, the baby watched his 36-year-old mother notch her eighth Nathan’s win. She told ESPN afterward that she hoped he would someday take a message away from it.
“I want to set an example,” she said, “to do things that you love and push yourself to your absolute limits and, when things get difficult, to still give it a try. And, you know, you might actually just come out victorious.”
Last year, Chestnut topped his own record by consuming 76 franks and buns in 10 minutes. It was his 14th win.
In conjunction with the spectacle, Nathan’s donates 100,000 franks to the Food Bank for New York City.