NYC hot dog contest set to crown chowdown champs

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, center, watches and Joey Chestnut, left, and Sonya Thomas face off while eating a hot dog after the official weigh-in for the Nathan's Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at City Hall park in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK (AP) — It's a dogfight, a roast, a frank encounter, a contest to win in the wurst way. In short, it's an event that devours puns. With relish.

The Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest is set to, well, roll Thursday in Coney Island. Chomping champs Joey Chestnut and Sonya Thomas are due to defend their respective men's and women's titles.

The 29-year-old Chestnut is a six-time winner from San Jose, Calif. He set the record of 68 weiners and buns in 10 minutes in 2009. He tied it last year.

The 45-year-old Thomas powered through 45 dogs to take the women's championship last year. She also won in 2011, the first year women competed separately. She's from Alexandria, Va.

The chowdown showdown is in its 98th year.