Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest 2013: Best Images from This Year's Contest

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 4, 2013

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest 2013: Best Images from This Year's Contest

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    Joey Chestnut and Sonya Thomas emerged as champions in the 2013 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on the Fourth of July.

    It marked Chestnut's record seventh consecutive victory as he dominated with a world-record 69 hot dogs and buns consumed. Meanwhile, Thomas maintained her status as the only woman to win in the three-year history since females began competing separately.

    There was plenty of excitement to be had, as Chestnut eclipsed his own personal best by just one as the 10 minutes wound down, while Thomas came out on top by less than one.

    Let's take a look at some of the best images from this premier competitive eating showcase from Coney Island, N.Y.

Photo Finish Win for Sonya Thomas

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    The corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues first played host to the women's championship, and it was a close call indeed for the two-time reigning champion Sonya Thomas.

    Thomas is only 5'5" and 101 pounds, but is a dominant force when felonious amounts of food are in front of her. It wasn't her best performance, as she failed to match her previous totals of 40 and 45, but the 36 and three-quarters was just enough to beat out Juliet Lee, who had 36.

    Credit to FOX 5's two-time Emmy Award-winning reporter Lidia Curanaj for the photo, which captured the moment Thomas found out for sure she was the winner.

Jaws Feasts Eyes on the Prize

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    Joey "Jaws" Chestnut was getting a visual as the dogs were being prepared ahead of the competition. He took to Twitter to say, "The dogs are cooking. I hope there is enough."

    There certainly were enough for Chestnut, who, as mentioned before, devoured a world-record 69 hot dogs and buns en route to a commanding triumph over Matt Stonie and Tim Janus, who had 51 and 50 respectively.

    Chestnut could have easily stopped with his win well in tow, but he decided to keep pushing into uncharted territory. This photo was neat to see how Chestnut was preparing before embarking on the ultimate test of intestinal fortitude.

Joey Chestnut Prepares to Make History

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    Everyone needs a good pep talk, and as ESPN's telecast noted after the race, Chestnut's girlfriend was in the front row spurring him on when he didn't think he could push through any harder.

    Major League Eating's Twitter page captured this moment between Chestnut and his presumed significant other before he made his way to the grand stage. Notice the intense, competitive gaze Chestnut flashes here.

    It's hard to fathom what sort of psychological state a human could be in as the inevitable 10-minute crunch of binge eating approached, but Chestnut appears to be all business here.

Erik "The Red" Denmark Combats the Heat of Competition

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    Nerves have to be rushing through one's body ahead of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, perhaps making some competitors hot under the hood.

    Thankfully, Erik Denmark had his plan to keep his figurative and literal cool (h/t Major League Eating), but it wasn't enough to get him anywhere close to the top heap of the men's championship.

    Denmark wound up finishing in 10th place with a mere 28 hot dogs consumed—far less than half of Chestnut's winning total.

Megatoad Stonie Rolls in Style

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    Matt "Megatoad" Stonie was runner-up for the second consecutive year, edging Tim Janus by one hot dog and bun with 51. There was no shortage of glamorization as the 22-year-old entered the competition, either.

    Talking a big game is one thing, but rolling in on a party bus is entirely another if Stonie were to come up small in the contest. To his credit, Stonie kept up with Chestnut for much of the first five minutes, but once Chestnut hit roughly 30, he began to pull away.

    What no one will ever be able to fault Stonie for is a lack of luxury. He'll probably have to do some serious digesting before he makes any more use of that tricked-out interior, though.

    Stonie posted the photo to his Facebook page on Thursday.

Royal Entrance for Joey Chestnut

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    While Stonie may have won the vehicular transportation contest, it's not as if his bus rolled up to the raucous Coney Island crowd.

    The theatrics and showmanship just moments before the eating went down were courtesy of Chestnut, who was carried in on some sort of yellow Nathan's chariot by many admirers.

    Call it pretentious or a sign of cockiness, but unlike Stonie, Chestnut backed it up with his performance. It remains to be seen if the champ will seek an eighth straight victory, but it will be difficult for him to top that type of introduction.

    Doug Gottlieb of CBS had only one thing to say: "Merica." The hat tip on the photo goes to 1010 WINS Radio reporter Steve Sandberg.

Analyzing the Art of Eating

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    What more can really be said other than Chestnut is going for his seventh straight win at the contest? Well, ESPN's newscasters couldn't just sit there. Some form of analysis had to be attempted.

    The network's premier business reporter Darren Rovell was witnessing the action unfold, and snapped this photo after color commentator Richard Shea said the following regarding Matt Stonie's prior win over Joey Chestnut, "He beat Joey in asparagus!"

    This image not only encapsulates the puzzled nature many of us have while watching these individuals stuff their faces full of food, but also displays the hesitation many of us would have in trying to give a legitimate preview of the action.

    To be sure, the telecast was entertaining, but it wasn't for the squeamish, nor those who disagree with the eating of meat.

The Relief and Anguish of Victory

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    Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs in Canada has its own Facebook page, and it photographed Chestnut wearing the American flag and elaborating—or trying to—on his victory just moments prior.

    Chestnut seems to be struggling to speak, and who could blame him? He just downed 69 hot dogs and buns after all. It looks as though Chestnut is glad that the ordeal is over and that he's rewritten the record books.

    However, is it worth the apparent pain he is suffering? With many things in life, you never know unless you try. My guess is not many of us will ever attempt to throw back watered down hot dogs in front of thousands of people.

Joining the All-Time Greats

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    ESPN Stats & Info showcased the elite company that Chestnut entered when he won his seventh title. In his own way, Chestnut matched Richard Petty's seven trips to the victory lane in NASCAR's Daytona 500.

    There is still work to be done to catch Tiger Woods' eight wins at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and Martina Navratilova's nine championships at Wimbledon, but Chestnut seems to have the tools to get it done.

    Considering how much of a landslide Chestnut won by in Coney Island, it wouldn't be surprising to see him reach double digits someday—barring another steel-jawed sensation coming along.

The Coney Island Crowd Cares

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    Richard Shea served as the color commentator as Chestnut polished off his 69th dog when the 10-minute time lapsed completely.

    In the aftermath of the extraordinary achievement, the fans weren't packing up and leaving, instead opting to bear witness to competitive eating history.

    The event has been going on since 1916 and is steeped in tradition in Coney Island, so it's not surprising that the contest's greatest champion of all-time wasn't immediately abandoned after title No. 7 in a row.

    What this image does is dismiss any notion that very few people care about competitive eating. Celebrating Independence Day by watching an unprecedented overindulgence of food had to be unique for everyone involved. For Chestnut, it was just another day at the office—er, the table.