The Ladies who lunch... a lot: Hot dog hotties prepare to eat 20,000 calories in Monday's contest
Last updated at 10:00 PM on 2nd July 2011
When these ladies who lunch go out to eat, they know how to put away an awful lot.
These four women are going head to head in the first ever women's eat-off at the Coney Island hot dog eating contest on Monday.
Sonya 'The Black Widow' Thomas, who is the favourite to take the title is hoping to beat her personal best and women's world record of 41 hot dogs and buns in ten minutes.
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The 42-year-old Burger King manager from Alexandria, Virginia, came fourth in last year's competition, and is hoping to become the first women to raise female competition's pink belt trophy and the $10,000 prize money.
The women said that they have always been big eaters.
'I didn't have a lot of talents growing up, but I could always eat, and my parents always said I had a big mouth,' said Laura Leu, 33, a food writer from Brooklyn, who used to be a cheerleader at the contest.
Ms Thomas' main rival for the prize will be Juliet Lee, 45, from Maryland who works as a beautician. She has previously managed to chomp through 28 hot dogs in the contest.
Fellow contender LaRelle Marie Mele, 47, a personal trainer from Pennsylvania, added: 'To me, this excitement is similar to when women were given the right to vote.'
In the male competition, Hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut estimates he will eat about 20,000 calories in one go at the eating contest, but he says his doctor doesn't mind.
'In the long run I'm really not consuming that many more calories than most people,' the four-time Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest champion said ahead of the annual Fourth of July eat-off.
'I run. I really try to stay healthy. I count my calories rigorously when I'm not doing the contests,' he said.
On Friday, Chestnut gathered near New York's City Hall with other eaters including the presumed female front-runner, 105-pound Sonya 'The Black Widow' Thomas.
This is the first year Nathan's is holding a separate eat-off for women.
The San Jose, California, resident said that at 27, he's young enough to get away with his competitive binging for a few more years.
His doctor checks his blood work and has told him not to worry as long as he gives himself time to recover, doesn't gain weight and doesn't develop diabetes, Mr Chestnut said.
Mr Chestnut is 6'1" and weighs 218 pounds.
A physically active man of his age, weight and height should be eating 3,200 calories a day to maintain his weight, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In 2009, the contest's reigning champion set a world record when he ate 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Last year, he won with just 54 dogs.
Last year's competition was overshadowed by the arrest of previous six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi, who jumped on the stage after Mr Chestnut's victory.
The 33-year-old from Japan had refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating and so was barred from competing.
This year, Mr Kobayashi will hold his own unofficial event miles away on a Manhattan rooftop. He'll watch the Nathan's contest on TV and try to out-eat all the competitors.
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