American competitive eater Sonya Thomas competes in the Whampoa Asia Eating Championship in Hong Kong Sunday, Aug.13, 2006. Thomas won after finish 17 'longevity buns' in two minutes at the championship. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Alexandria's competitive eating star Sonya Thomas, a.k.a. the "Black Widow," will be in the Superbowl of food-scarfing contests on the 4th of July.
A veteran of the competitive eating circuit, she's still hungry for victory in Coney Island, at the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
In a change this year, the 5-foot-five, 105 pound Virginian won't be going bite for bite with the male contestants. Instead, the contest organizers have set up a female only eat-off, to be held immediately before the men's event.
"Serena Williams didn't have to beat Roger Federer to win the Wimbledon title, and we don't think Sonya Thomas should have to beat Joey Chestnut," said master of ceremonies George Shea to the A.P. The winning woman gets to take home a $20,000 cash purse, the same as the men.
Nathan's officials hoped that setting up a separate contest would help shine a light on the "accomplishments" of female competitive eaters.
Since 2003, the 43-year-old Black Widow has built quite a resume.
Last September, the Black Widow downed 181 chicken wings to beat competitive eating heavyweight Kenny Chestnut in a Buffalo, New York contest. She took ten minutes to eat 8 pounds of chili cheese fries in 2006. That's the same amount of time it took her to suck down 46 oysters in 2006.
The Black Widow’s eating skills run across cultural cuisines, too: in 2004, she plowed through a pile of 48 soft tacos in 11 minutes. And leaving Cool Hand Luke in the dust, Thomas once downed 65 hard boiled eggs - in under 7 minutes.
The organization Major League Eating lists Ms. Thomas as the 5th best in the world.
Among her challengers on Monday will be another local girl, Germantown's Juliet Lee. Also 105 pounds, Lee's recent meals include 160 shrimp wontons.
If you want to see the Black Widow showing off her jalapeno-eating abilities in NBC4's studio, click on the video.