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Jaws finally devoured the Black Widow at the National Buffalo Wing Festival.
Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, 28, of San Jose, Calif., billed as the No. 1-ranked competitive eater in the world, set a new world record for eating fried chicken wings Sunday by downing 7.61 pounds of wings in 12 minutes during the festival's professional Buffalo Chicken Wing Eating Contest.
Chestnut beat out the No. 2 finisher, Sonya Thomas of Alexandria Va., who consumed 6.36 pounds of wings during the contest.
Thomas - nicknamed "the Black Widow" and weighing in at 105 pounds - is ranked as the No. 4 competitive eater in the world. However, she has six chicken wing-eating championships under her belt, including one from 2004 and five consecutive championships from 2007 through 2011.
Chestnut's performance Sunday at Coca-Cola Field set a world record for chicken wing-eating contestants - and it marked the first time he has bested Thomas at the Chicken Wing Festival in the last three years.
"It was incredible, an amazing contest," Chestnut said afterward. "It was just a matter of getting the right rhythm. And Sonya is a great competitor."
About a dozen professional eating contestants participated, but Chestnut and Thomas were clearly the favorites, and the contest boiled down to a competition between those two.
Chestnut is a 6-foot, 218-pound competitive eater who has won a number of other eating championships, including for hot dogs, hamburgers, deep-fried asparagus, waffles, pizza, and macaroni and cheese.
He said he prepared for Sunday's contest by fasting for a day.
"I felt really good today. I was having fun," he said.
While waiting for the results to be tabulated, Chestnut complimented Thomas, but he added, "I hope I beat her. I think I got it."
He ate 191 chicken wings, but the contest was decided on the weight of the meat consumed, not on the number of wings eaten.
Master of Ceremonies George Shea said Chestnut consumed six trays of wings, while Thomas ate five trays.
"Early in the contest, she cleaned her first few trays more completely than Joey did, but then he caught up," Shea said. The number of trays emptied and the number of wings eaten did not count, he said.
"This is a weight-based event; it's all you can eat in 12 minutes," Shea explained.
"I'm tired now," Chestnut said in a short interview after setting the wing-eating record. "I'll go and take a nap. Buffalo is a great place in which to compete; it's an awesome place."
Hundreds of enthusiastic festival-goers flocked close to the stage during the heated competition, and scores more fans watched from the stadium seats as they cheered on the contestants, especially near the end, when it became obvious that Chestnut or Thomas would be the winner and that in either case a new world record was likely to be established.
Thomas' waist was clearly expanded when she stepped forward to accept her award as the contest runner-up. Before the competition began, the native of South Korea said: "It's not an easy job. I have to compete against other champions, but wings and oysters are my specialties.
"I didn't eat before the contest today. The wings will be just an appetizer. I'll be hungry after the contest, and then I'll have to eat some other food, and I'll drink a Diet Coke."
Each of the dozen contestants drank liberally from bottles of fresh water to wash down the wings they consumed under a beautiful summer sky with only a hint of fluffy clouds in the distance and a soft breeze to moderate the afternoon sun.
Thomas was a bundle of energy as she awaited her turn on stage. While eating, she continued to do a little jump-dance as she stuffed wings into her mouth and smeared red sauce all around her mouth and cheeks. She rinsed the wing-sauce off her hands before accepting her second-place award.
Juliet Lee, of Germantown, Md., ranked ninth among world championship eaters, won third place in Sunday's contest.
Wing festival founder Drew Cerza said 80,000 pounds of jumbo wings were on hand for the weekend festival, almost double the amount used in each of the last few years.
The festival, which ran Saturday and Sunday, including a series of band concerts, games and mini-contests in addition to the main wing-eating championship event.
Having raised more than $250,000 for local charities over the last decade, the festival this year is donating to the Alzheimers Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Food Bank of Western New York, and Meals on Wheels. The festival was supported by 11 corporate sponsors.

email: rbaldwin@buffnews.com