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2021 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest Competitors Weigh In At Hudson Yards

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The world's top eaters officially weighed in Friday ahead of this weekend's Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The competitors weighed in and were certified during a ceremony at Hudson Yards before the big competition returns to Coney Island on July 4th, CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported.

Reigning men's champion and 13-time winner Joey Chestnut stared down his "archrival" Geoffrey Esper, the second best ranked eater in the world.

"I'm hoping I can find that perfect rhythm where I can keep pushing and I'm comfortable. Hopefully, 76, 77 sounds doable,' Chestnut said. "Look at those hot dogs. They belong inside of my tummy."

Last year's contest was held at a private location without an audience due to COVID restrictions. None of it phased Chestnut, who won by scarfing down 75 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes - a world record!

"Last year was so weird eating in a quiet room. I cold hear myself eating, I could hear the guys next to me eating. It was awkward," Chestnut said. "So I'll be really excited to have an audience yelling at me and then pushing me along."

michelle lesco joey chestnut weigh in duddridge hot dog eating contest hudson yards
(credit: CBS2)

Reigning women's champion Miki Sudo, who ate 48 and a half hot dogs in 10 minutes, is sitting out this year because she is pregnant. Her partner is also a Nathan's competitor.

Sudo appeared at the weigh in though, saying she'll be back next year to seek her eighth title.

Schoolteacher Michelle Lesco is the odds-on favorite to win this year. Lesco said getting started is the hardest part.

"The first year I was in, cooking 40 hot dogs and sitting at your table and eating hot dogs for 10 minutes. You get started and you're like, 'What am I doing in my life?'" Lesco said. "If I don't win it, it's on me. It's my fault for not working hard enough."

Lesco said she was inspired by Melody Andorfer, the first woman to the win the contest.

In 1972, Andorfer ate 12 hot dogs in five minutes to beat all the men. She was 17.

"If you're afraid to do something, don't be afraid. Go out there and do it because you can accomplish whatever you want," Andorfer said.

The contest gets underway at Maimonides Park on Sunday. The women's competition starts at 11:30 a.m. followed by the men's at 12:30 p.m.

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