The defending champion, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has stuffed, scarfed and shoved down a stomach-shattering 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to win his fifth straight Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest…along with the coveted yellow mustard belt.
But what’s a big-stakes sports event without an unexpected twist?
On Monday, it came in the form of renegade eater Takeru Kobayashi, who was ineligible to compete at the Nathan’s contest because of a contract dispute with Major League Eating.
Kobayashi, 33, who won six consecutive Nathan’s Famous titles between 2001 and 2006, set up a simultaneous protest event at a rooftop bar on Fifth Avenue. There, he downed 69 hot dogs purchased from a Nathan’s outpost in the same timeframe as Chestnut and later posed with his arms raised in victory.
“I think I showed them,” he was quoted as saying, by predicting he could reach a future tally of 85 or 90 snags.
Back at Coney Island, Chestnut, a mild-mannered construction manager from San Jose, Calif., ran away with the dog derby after early heated competition from Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti of Chicago, who wound up wolfing down 53.
“I feel great,” he said, draped in an American flag and clutching a bottle of Pepto-Bismol, an event sponsor.
“Listen, I’m getting paid to eat.
“It’s not too bad a life.”
Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas earlier devoured 40 hot dogs and buns in the same 10-minute period…one short of her personal best…to win the women’s title.
Juliet Lee and Stephanie Torres tied for second place with 29 apiece.
Each of the champion “weapons of mass digestion” – as the Major League Eating Organization likes to call them – took home a $10,000 first prize from the annual Coney Island extravaganza.
Chestnut suggested he had some new challenges in his future.
“I’ve never done oysters or hard-boiled eggs,” he said.
Chestnut’s technique…if it can be called that…included dipping his dogs and buns in hot water before shoving them down – a trick he said earlier helped to relax his throat muscles.
At the same time, he bounced up and down on his toes as his arms turned into shoveling machines.
Gravy Brown of Chicago, one of the 17 men’s competitors, dropped out midway, but the others battled to the end under overcast skies and high humidity.
Tim “Eater X” Janus of New York City finished third, with 45 dogs downed.
Chestnut’s track record is not confined to hot dogs.
Buford Balony says: I’m trying to arrange with the editor to bring Chestnut & Kobayashi to Collie WA for a mouth to mouth match race for $20,000.
If the readers want this, email or comment on this article.