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Competitors Weigh In For 4th Of July Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Before the fireworks Monday, crowds will be gathering for another beloved New York tradition: the 96th Annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island.

On Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg looked on as the best of the best stepped on the scale for the annual weigh-in ceremony.

1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reports: Who's Ready To Eat?

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Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, who took home the Mustard Belt last year for the fourth time in a row, is hungry for another win. He said he's vying for seven Mustard Belts.

"Right now, I'm fasting and I'm getting ready," Chestnut said. "I'll be absolutely empty and hungry on the 4th of July."

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest Weigh In
The spread at the weigh-in for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest (credit: Steve Sandberg/1010 WINS)

In the 2009 competition, Chestnut beat his previous record of 59 hot dogs and buns by eating 68 hot dogs, which set a world record. Last year, he took home the belt after consuming 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes -- which he described as a disappointing performance.

Chestnut said that despite eating an estimated 20,000 calories during contests, his diet and exercise regimen when he's not training for a competition combined with doctor check-ups would allow him to continue competing for a few more years.

Longtime rival Takeru Kobayashi won't be at the competition Monday but for the first time there'll be a women's division led by Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas.

"I have a chance, a big chance, to get that champion belt," Thomas said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Mayor Bloomberg at the annual weigh-in ceremony for the Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest. (credit: kristen Artz/Flickr)

After the contest, Coney Island's new amusement park, Scream Zone, will try to figure out whose stomach is the toughest. They're offering the competitors unlimited free rides on the Sling Shot.

"These competitors have polished off as many as 68 hot dogs in ten minutes, but let's see how long they can keep them down when they're launched 150 feet into the air at more than 90mph before flipping back down to earth," said Valerio Ferrari, president of Central Amusement International. "It's called Scream Zone for a reason. Joey Chestnut may never be able to look at a hot dog again after a couple of spins on Sling Shot."

Will you be joining in on the fun? Let us know below!

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