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Joey Chestnut ate 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win the men’s division of the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest for a record 16th time, and Miki Sudo downed 39.5 dogs to win the women’s competition for the 9th straight time in an Independence Day event marked by a lengthy weather delay.
Chestnut said afterward it was a roller coaster of a day due to the severe weather.
“They told us it was canceled,” Chestnut said. “We weren’t sure we were gonna eat today. I’m just happy. It’s the 4th of July, I got to eat some hot dogs and get a win.”
“I feel great,” he added. “I’ve got leftover room, so I’ll be having some beers later.”
Geoffrey Esper took second place with 49 hot dogs, and Australia’s James Webb came in 3rd with 47.
The gluttonous Independence Day event brought thousands of people to Coney Island, New York, on Tuesday to watch competitive eaters scarf down as many hot dogs as their stomachs allow in just 10 minutes.
A major rain and lightning storm hit Coney Island around noon, shortly before the men were set to come out to compete, scattering the crowds to shelter. The weather delay lasted for about two hours, and the event began again at 2 p.m. ET.
The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement warning of “strong thunderstorms” and “frequent cloud to ground lightning” in parts of Brooklyn, specifically mentioning Coney Island.
A possible injury due to lightning may have occurred on Coney Island, according to a preliminary storm report from the National Weather Service. The FDNY said they responded to a call of an “electrocution” just before noon on Coney Island and transported a person to Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn.
A spectacle of gluttony
Chestnut was the heavy favorite on the men’s side and has now won 16 of the last 17 Independence Day contests, including 63 hot dogs last year. He set a competition record with 76 dogs downed in 2021.
Speaking to CNN on Monday, Chestnut said he was ready to push himself to an “extreme” limit at the contest.
“I know that after this time I’m not going to feel great,” he said. “It’s going to take about four days to feel really normal, and the first 12 hours after the contest I’m going to feel like garbage. I go in knowing that and I’m willing to go through that because it’s an amazing contest, it’s the Fourth of July, and I’m going to do what it takes to get number 16.”
The women’s competition appeared close to the end between Sudo, the No. 1-ranked female competitive eater, and rookie Mayoi Ebihara. But a review from officials determined Ebihara finished 33.5 dogs, while Michelle Lesco took third with 24.5.
Sudo won last year’s title with 40 hot dogs and holds the women’s world record for eating 48.5 hot dogs in 10 minutes. After winning this year’s title, she expressed disappointment in her final tally.
“Thirty-nine is a lower number, though, I’m sorry guys,” she told the crowd.
The aspiring hot dog champs faced off at Nathan’s Famous flagship restaurant at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island on the edge of south Brooklyn in New York City.
The event began with pre-show festivities, including music and dance performances, according to the Professional League of Eating Contests, which sanctions the event.
Eaters need to be 18 or older to enter and must have participated in a qualifying event in May or June. Nathan’s hosted four qualifying events for the big show, with the top male and female finishers from each receiving invitations to the July 4 showdown.
Each contestant has their own scorekeeper to monitor their running total, according to CNN affiliate WABC. Water and other beverages, as well as condiments, are allowed. Penalties can be issued for “messy eating and regurgitation,” reports WABC.
The top eater in each category takes home $10,000, according to WABC. Second place takes $5,000, third place gets $2,500, fourth place gets $1,500, and fifth place wins $1,000. Each champion also receives the coveted Mustard Belt.
CNN’s Zoe Sottile, Laura Ly, Taylor Ward and Brandon Miller contributed to this report.
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