Joey Chestnut did it the hard way Monday, winning his 15th title at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
The event began with Chestnut arriving on crutches and his leg in a surgical boot, according to ESPN.
Then, partway through the event, Chestnut had to pause in mid-gobble to deal with an animal-rights protester who rushed the competition while sporting a Darth Vader mask, according to Bleacher Report.
Chestnut did not have time for this sort of thing and put the protester in what looked like a choke hold before throwing him to the ground.
Another protester flashed a sign that read, “EXPOSE SMITHFIELD DEATHSTAR.” Smithfield, a meat packing company, makes Nathan’s famous hot dogs.
Chestnut just obliterated him?? pic.twitter.com/dry7Oy8KZK
— jonah block (@JonahBlock05) July 4, 2022
The protest had an impact, though. Chestnut gobbled 63 hotdogs, well below his record of 76 and below the number he was predicted to hit, which was 74.5. DraftKings announced it would refund all bets because Chestnut was interrupted.
The New York Police Department said three people were cited for the incident, according to TMZ.
Chestnut’s showing drew accolades from Andy Nesbitt of USA Today, who noted that any Greatest of All Time list should include Chestnut.
“If you needed any more proof that Chestnut is a dominant athlete then you should have seen what he did to a protester who jumped on the stage in the middle of the event. Chestnut basically choked the fella out while slamming another hot dog down his gullet. His level of athleticism in that moment was off the darn charts. You can’t coach that stuff. You can’t teach that stuff,” he wrote.
“Sometimes athletes get in the zone and make the unthinkable look so easy to pull off. That’s what Chestnut did yesterday on Coney Island. It’s what he does every year on Coney Island,” he wrote.
Nesbitt said the great ones play through pain.
“Oh, you need more proof that the hot dog king is an athlete? Chestnut showed up yesterday on crutches and with a cast on his foot due to a ruptured tendon that he recently suffered,” he wrote.
“Dude played through pain. There were no excuses. There was no woe-is-me attitude. The man just loosened his belt and ate all the hot dogs as quickly as possible because he’s a GOAT and that’s what GOATs do,” he wrote.
During a Tuesday interview with “Today,” Chestnut was self-effacing.
“I probably smell like meat,” he said.
“I don’t feel too great, but it’s like anything, a marathon runner doesn’t feel too great after a marathon,” he said in the interview, according to the New York Post. “It will take me a day and a half to recover.”
The women’s competition was won by Miki Sudo, who won her eighth championship by downing 40 hot dogs.
As part of the annual event, Nathan’s donates 100,000 hot dogs to the Food Bank for New York City.
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