Chestnut, who arrived at Monday’s annual event on crutches with his right leg in a cast, downed 63 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. It was 13 short of the record 76 he broke last year, but more than enough for the 38-year-old to hold off his nearest challenger Geoffrey Esper, who finished with 47½. Miki Sudo won her eighth women’s title earlier today.
“It hurts when I walk, but I can stand and I can eat, and I’m going to push it to the limit,” Chestnut, who recently injured his leg tendon while running, told ESPN before the competition.
Chestnut opened up an 11-hot dog lead three minutes into Monday’s event and clinched his seventh consecutive title since being upset by Matt Stonie in 2015. He was unimpressed with a person wearing a Darth Vader mask who made his way to the front of the stage and unfurled a sign next to him in the middle of the contest. Chestnut put the intruder in a brief choking before returning his attention to the hot dogs on the table in front of him.
As ESPN helpfully pointed out, Chestnut has now won one more mustard yellow championship belt (15) than Rafael Nadal has won French Open titles. Japan’s Takeru Kobayashi won the second most Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating titles with six consecutive titles from 2001 to 2006.
The Independence Day show, which began in 1916, returned to Nathan’s flagship location in Brooklyn’s Coney Island neighborhood for the first time since 2019. In 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic , the contest was organized in a private place and without spectators. Last year’s event was held at the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league ballpark with limited attendance.
“We’re back! We’re back!” Major League Eating announcer George Shea shouted before the contest started to a large crowd at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues.
“It’s nice to be back here in front of this audience,” Chestnut said after winning his 15th hot dog eating title in the last 16 years. “New York is amazing and there is no place like it in the world.”
Sudo, who missed last year’s event because she was pregnant, won her eighth women’s title by eating 40 hot dogs and buns. Michelle Lesco, who won the 2021 title, finished second. Sudo holds the women’s record with 48½ hot dogs devoured in 2020, when she won her seventh consecutive title.
“I knew I was excited to be back, but the feeling you get once you’re actually here is unlike anything else,” Sudo said on ESPN.
Sudo, 36, met her husband, fellow competitive eater Nick Wehry, at the 2018 hot dog eating contest. Wehry held the couple’s son Max, who turns one on Friday, while Sudo held reclaimed his title on Monday. Wehry then competed in the men’s division.
Miki Sudo is a seven-time Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating champion.
Nick Wehry is the fourth competitive eater in the world.
Meet the married couple who continue to break competitive food records. pic.twitter.com/zuYS0ny8qp
— Sports Center (@SportsCenter) July 4, 2022