Joey Chestnut may have been a spectacular performer in Monday’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest to walk with crutches. But after another emotional performance in front of the Coney Island crowd, Chestnut had enough fans ready to knock him off the stage he had just dominated – once again.
Chestnut’s ruptured tendon injury, combined with a series of personal setbacks, including the recent loss of his “first time coach” mother Alicia, did not deter the 38-year-old champion, who devoured 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes Monday at the annual Independence Day event. Despite falling short of his own record of 76 dogs eaten last year, Chestnut held another clinic to claim the mustard belt, edging out Geoffrey Esper (47½ hot dogs).
Chestnut, who goes by the name ‘Jaws’, has now won seven straight and 15 of the last 16 hot dog eating contests since beating six-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi in 2007, with his only loss in 2015 against Matt Stonie.
In his storied career, Chestnut has now eaten a record 1,152 hot dogs combined. It became a habit for Chestnut to not necessarily fight others, but his own world records from competitions from previous years.
Chestnut told USA TODAY Sports ahead of his victory on Monday: “Most athletes have two kinds of primes. Their first prime is when their body is the best. I’ve passed that prime. The second prime is when their mind and their knowledge is at its best, where you know your body and how to train less but be just as prepared.
‘I always leave for 80’:Late career hot dog champ Joey Chestnut has big goals
In the women’s division earlier today, Miki Sudo reclaimed her title after taking a year off due to pregnancy. The 36-year-old, despite a wrist injury, ate 40 hot dogs and was just short of her personal best of 48.5 francs.
A bizarre incident unfolded at the start of the men’s competition when a protester rushed onto the stage to run into Chestnut, who then responded by putting the protester in a mini chokehold before security rushed the person and then Chestnut resumed his meal.
After two years of being moved from its signature location in Brooklyn’s Coney Island due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s contest eventually returned to the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues at Nathan’s Famous restaurant in Coney Island. The crowd of thousands was in full force to enjoy the Independence Day holiday and cheer on the hot dog eaters, with several contestants stirring up the crowd – a luxury that hadn’t been there since 2019. The annual hot dog eating contest has still been held — rain or shine — every year since 1916.