- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - It’s time again for the annual Nathan’s hot dog eating contest on Coney Island _ where contestants scarf down thousands of calories in mere minutes.

This year, the women have a separate Fourth of July match that starts a half-hour earlier than the men’s competition.

The star of the female pigout is Sonya Thomas, who ate a record-setting 41 wieners and buns in 10 minutes in 2009.

The same year, world champion Joey Chestnut put away 68.

Absent again Monday is his chief rival, Takeru Kobayashi, (TAHK’-er-roo ko-bye-AH’-shee) who will mount his own, unofficial contest from a Manhattan rooftop.

He’s ineligible to compete because he won’t sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, the fast-food equivalent of the NFL. He was arrested last year after crashing the show.

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