Even after 10 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest victories, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut was still hungry.
The reigning world champion downed 74 hot dogs — and buns — in 10 minutes, breaking his 2017 world record of 72 franks and claiming the 2018 championship belt.
But his victory came with a hiccup.
The judges initially announced that Chestnut had eaten 64 hot dogs and buns, but upon review they discovered they had made a 10-dog error. Chestnut said he knew they had made a mistake when George Shea, the announcer, said he had eaten only eight hot dogs in the first minute. But Chestnut holds no hard feelings about the snafu.
“I’m literally feeling amazing and a little bit full — also literally,” he said, sweat pouring down his face. “I don’t know where to go from here, but I guess come back and try to keep pushing.”
The recount brought Carmen Cincotti up to 64 hot dogs for a second-place finish, and Darron Breeden placed third with a respectable 43 dogs. Underdog Matt Stonie, who defeated Joey Chestnut in 2015, did not place.
On the women’s side, Miki Sudo guzzled 37 hot dogs, falling short of her record 41, but still came out on top by almost 20. Michelle Lesco took second place with 28 dogs, and Juliet Lee took third with 25.
Thousands of spectators wearing Nathan’s foam hats cheered on the eaters, waving hot dog-shaped balloons and occasionally bursting into chants of “U.S.A.”
Marissa Picione, 14, from Flemington, New Jersey, showed up to root for Matt Stonie. She has followed the competition since she was 5, but this was her first time seeing the spectacle in person.
“When I was younger, I saw Joey Chestnut every year kind of doing the same kind of style, same thing every single year, and then this newcomer comes, Matt Stonie, and he’s up there, he’s dancing and he’s having fun,” she said. “I haven’t really seen that style and I kind of clicked with it.”
As the Hot Dog Eating Contest has gained popularity, it has also gotten more competitive, and eaters like Stonie haven’t been able to stand the heat. “Crazy Legs” Conti, 47, who has competed in 14 of the last 18 and holds a personal record of 26, said it gets more difficult to qualify every year.
“My hot dog skills have eroded,” he said. “Forty is the new 20 on the circuit — Real Housewives and competitive eaters.”
Chestnut promises to continue challenging the limits of the human gastrointestinal system next year:
“As long as I’m happy and healthy and the contest is fun, you can count me in.”