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Thousands pack Surf and Stillwell as Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest returns in full force

Nathan's hot dog eating contest returns in full force at Coney Island
Nathan's hot dog eating contest returns in full force at Coney Island 02:17

NEW YORK -- The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest returned in full force on Monday. 

Thousands of spectators filled Surf and Stillwell to watch the July 4th tradition and Coney Island became the epicenter for competitive eaters worldwide, CBS2's Hannah Kliger reported. 

While both the men's and women's champions failed to beat their personal bests, those who came out to cheer were not disappointed. 

Reigning champion Joey Chestnut took home the gold once again by consuming 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Chestnut fell short of his record of 76, which he set last year. 

"The audience as trying to push me and I'm sorry, I wish I ate some more but I'll be back next year!" said Chestnut after his 15th victory in the annual Independence Day contest. 

Protesters interrupted the event and jumped on stage, but Chestnut quickly tackled one and a few were taken away by police.

"They tried to sabotage the show but Joey kept rolling. It was amazing," said Gary Withorpe, from Long Island

It was a jam-packed event with musical performances and thousands of excited spectators.

Coney Island packed on July 4 as sun blares down 01:21

A few of the judges said they were thrilled to be back to normal after the last two years. 

"It was hot. It was good to be back here on Stillwell and Surf, but it was hot," James Roberts said. 

"Judging, the actual judging for me is the best part," Richie Cusack said. 

In the women's contest, Miki Sudo returned to her spot at the top with 40 frankfurters. Sudo's personal record is 48. She made a strong return after sitting out last year during her pregnancy. 

"It's been way too long since we've seen you and this has been an amazing comeback," Sudo told the crowd. 

As is traditional, Nathan's Famous made a donation of 100,000 thousand hot dogs to the Food Bank for NYC. 

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