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Joey Chestnut defends title, gobbles down record 72 hot dogs

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NEW YORK– Joey “Jaws” Chestnut gulped, chomped and powered his way to a 10th title on Tuesday, continuing his record-setting reign as the chowing champion at the annual Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest.

Shoving water-soaked buns and wriggling franks into his mouth on a hot, sunny day on the Coney Island boardwalk, he downed 72 dogs and buns in 10 minutes to beat his own record and hoist the Mustard Belt for a 10th time. The San Jose, California, man bested up-and-comer Carmen Cincotti, of Mays Landing, New Jersey, who ate 62 franks and buns on his 24th birthday.

Miki Sudo notched a fourth straight win in the women’s competition. The Las Vegas woman ate 41 hot dogs and buns to beat Michelle Lesco of Tucson, Arizona, who downed 32 franks and buns.

During the men’s competition, five people were taken into custody for trying to disrupt the event, police said. The people appeared to be attempting to unfold a black banner before police stopped them and took them away. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals members had been giving away free vegan hot dogs outside the event, but spokeswoman Tricia Lebkuecher said the people arrested inside weren’t affiliated with PETA.

Chestnut has dominated the chowdown throwdown for years, eating 70 franks and buns last year to top his then-record and take back the title from Matt “The Megatoad” Stonie. The 25-year-old Stonie came in third on Tuesday, with 48 franks and buns.

“There’s no secret, I love to eat, and I love doing it, I love to win, so I had to figure out my body and push it to the limit,” a sweating Chestnut said after his win. The 33-year-old said he’d hoped to down even more dogs but was leaving feeling good.

Cincotti said he’d eaten a thousand hot dogs since May in preparation for his second try at the Mustard Belt. Getting to even second place is “surreal – I grew up watching this contest,” he said.

Meanwhile, the women’s side has featured a yearslong rivalry between Sudo and record-holder Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, of Alexandria, Virginia. Thomas, who’s 50, came in third on Tuesday with 30 dogs and buns, well shy of her record 45.

Sudo told ESPN she “just came back better than ever” this year. She’s 31; Lesco is 33.

One of America’s most outlandish July Fourth traditions, the contest dates to 1972, though the company has for years promoted what a former president acknowledged was a legendary start date of 1916.

Leigh Brown and her husband brought her 11-year-old sons, Carter and Corbyn, all the way from Florida to see it.

“They really wanted to come. They always watched it on TV, so it’s pretty special for them,” Brown said.

New Jersey sports betting market closing in on $1B mark

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — New Jersey’s sports betting market is closing in on the $1 billion dollar mark after less than six months of operation.

Figures released Wednesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show New Jersey’s casino and racetrack-based sports books took in over $330 million worth of bets in November.

Gamblers in the state have plunked down $928 million on sports events since sports betting began in mid-June.

The $21.2 million that sports books kept from that money, along with another strong month of internet gambling, helped Atlantic City’s casinos post an increase of nearly 25 percent in gambling revenue in November, compared with a year ago.

The casinos won $257 million from gamblers in November.

There are two more casinos operating this November than there were a year ago.

Joey Chestnut downs a record 74 franks for 11th title

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Defending champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut chomped down a record 74 franks and buns to take home his 11th title at the annual Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest.

The renowned competitive eater from San Jose, California, takes home the coveted Mustard Belt and surpassed the previous mark of 72 dogs and buns he downed last year.

The heat wasn’t a factor; the National Weather Service put the temperature at 83 degrees with a heat index of 91 degrees.

Miki Sudo said after eating 37 dogs and buns that the heat may have slowed her down in winning the women’s competition.

That didn’t stop the Las Vegas eater from easily beating out second-place finisher Mischelle Lesco of Tuscon, Arizona, who chowed down 28 wieners and buns.