Eating superstar Joey “Jaws” Chestnut shook off a rain delay and gobbled his way to another win at Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, downing 62 franks and buns in 10 minutes.
Chestnut out ate runner-up Geoffrey Esper and the rest of an international field of 15 competitive eaters by double digits to clinch his eighth straight Mustard Belt and 16th overall. Esper, of Oxford, Massachusetts, managed to ingest 49 hot dogs and buns.
In the women’s contest, defending champion Miki Sudo forced down 39½ hot dogs and buns to collect her ninth Mustard Belt. But before the men could compete, stormy weather moved over New York City’s Coney Island and delayed the competition for two hours.
“What a roller coaster, emotionally,” Chestnut said after riding out the rain and wondering whether the famed contest would go on at all. The 39-year-old from Westfield, Indiana, first competed for the Nathan’s title in 2005 and hasn’t lost it since 2015.
He ate 63 hot dogs and buns last year to win the title, but he had an interruption. A protestor wearing a Darth Vader costume came on stage, and Chestnut put him in a headlock before security took over.
His best finish was in 2021, when he tallied 76 hot dogs, but Tuesday’s weather disruption made a repeat impossible.
“Everybody got messed up,” Chestnut said.
Sudo beat Mayoi Ebihara’s 33½ hot dogs in 10 minutes in a women’s event that appeared to be much closer until the final count was announced. The unofficial real-time counter showed the two leaders tied throughout much of the competition. A final count of plates settled the score.
Sudo, 37, was disappointed in her winning total, which was nine hot dogs short of her all-time high. She said competition from the 27-year-old Ebihara had thrown her off.
“The first couple minutes, I found myself watching her, which I never want to do. I never want to be distracted by the other competitors,” Sudo, of Port Richey, Florida, said after the competition. “Watching her, I fumbled my hands. I got stuck with a big burp early on but was able to correct.”
The annual contest on Coney Island drew competitors from England, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Brazil and Australia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.