The annual Nathan's Hot-Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island is adding a women's-only division to help even out the competition. Richard Shea, president of Major League Eating, claims the 4th of July competition has been dominated by men for too long and it's time to open up the playing field.
According to the New York Post, the sausage-fest on the boardwalk's landmark decision will open up the sport to more female competitors.
According to Shea, women account for only a couple of the world's top competitive eaters and only men have taken home the the "Mustard-Yellow Belt" at Nathan's.
Thomas has her share of eating titles and is called "The Black Widow" because she has devoured as much food as she has men's egos. The 44 year-old holds 38 world records and set the American record for hot-dog eating with 37 in 2007. She lost to the Babe Ruth of competition eating Takero Kobayashi of Japan.
Thomas and Juliet Lee are the most visible and dominant women eaters on the circuit. Both women weigh in at 105 pounds and have made the finals of the Nathan's hot-dog finals.
"On any given weekend, Sonya and Juliet can beat the guys," said Shea. "But hot dogs seem to be different."
Shea claims the women hold records in cheesecake and cranberry sauce eating contests among others, but hot-dog eating is still dominated by the men.
The petite Thomas is known as a ringer in the sea-food eating competitions and trains by eating one big meal a day.
Lee, says being bigger has little to do with being a competitive food-eating champion. It's more about the elasticity of your stomach.
"Your body size doesn't have anything to do with how much food you eat," the 45 year-old said. "The larger people tend to have more fat on them and can't stretch as well."
Last year's competition at Nathan's was a let down after Kobayashi was arrested for trying to crash the event--contractual dispute--and satisfied his hunger with bologna sandwiches and Kool-Aid while chilling his taste buds in a central booking jail cell.
Chestnut won the belt by cramming an uninspired 54 tube steaks down his throat--14 short of his world record.
Now we'll have ladies vying for a separate belt. Women's rights has come a foot-long way.