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Competitive eating phenom Joey Chestnut captured his 15th title on Monday at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, an annual Independence Day tradition on Coney Island, NY
The wiener warrior downed 63 hot dogs and buns before thousands of boisterous, sun-soaked July 4 revelers — many shamelessly sporting Nathan’s Famous Styrofoam hot dog hats.
The hot dog total was well below the record 76 frankfurters that Chestnut, 38, of Indiana, ate last year.
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But it was enough to easily out-munch no. 2 eater Geoffrey Esper of Massachusetts, who downed 37.5 hot dogs and buns.
The victory was not without drama. Chestnut competed despite recently suffering a ruptured tendon in his right leg — and he was hobbling around on crutches before the competition.
He was also interrupted by the protesters about halfway through the 10-minute test of ingestion endurance.
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They carried signs that said, “Expose Smithfield Deathstar.”
One of the men pushed Chestnut aside in the heat of his Herculean digestion effort.
The champ responded by grabbing the man around the neck and helping to pull him to the ground. He quickly returned to eating as authorities ushered the protesters off the stage.
“Joey was on a record pace. We should have witnessed history,” charged first-time Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest attendee Frankie Capobianco of Boston, Mass. who otherwise reveled in what he called “the all-American spectacle” for the first time.
“That guy totally messed with [Joey’s] momentum.”
A man was arrested to the left of the competitors’ platform as the heated contest continued despite the fracas.
“When the barren hills and the cracked earth and the once-proud oceans drain to sand, there will still be a monument to our existence,” emcee and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest host George Shea said of the reigning champ.
“This man represents all that is eternal in the human spirit.”
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Miki Sudo won the women’s competition for the eighth time, eating 40 hot dogs and buns.
The world’s top-ranked female eater could not compete last year because she was pregnant with Max, whose father is the no. 3-ranked men’s competitor Nick Wehry.
She had won seven straight titles from 2014 to 2021.
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The Independence Day competition returned on Monday to its traditional location at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues for the first time since 2019.