Joey Chestnut chomped his way to the top of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest again Monday, winning a record-setting 15th victory at the annual Fourth of July competition — even while putting an interloper in a chokehold mid-event.
The 37-year-old gobbled down 63 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, a far cry from the record 76 he devoured last year.
The number still eviscerated that of Chestnut’s closest competitor, Geoffrey Esper, by 20 dogs.
Chestnut’s dominant performance came despite a brief interruption by an animal rights protester who rushed him at one point as he was gobbling down dogs. The bizarre disturbance only lasted a few seconds before the eating champ grabbed and body-slammed the man out of the way.
The “GOAT” had shocked the competitive eating world Friday when he showed up to his official weigh-in on crutches. A tendon injury required him to compete Monday in a medical boot.
His dominant victory Monday marked the first time since 2019 that the competition was held at its usual location, the original Nathan’s at Surf Avenue and Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
Last year’s match was a limited-entry, ticketed event at nearby Maimonides baseball stadium, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Monday’s victory for Chestnut marked his 15th at the competition.
Ranked No. 1 in the world of competitive eaters by Major League Eating, the former California resident has won all but one Nathan’s contest since 2006.
Eight-time champ Miki Sudo won the women’s hot dog contest held earlier Monday.
Longtime fans expressed relief and excitement to be back at the flagship location for this year’s competition..
“It’s been a tradition in my family to come here every Fourth of July, so here we are,” said a woman named Daphne, 26, of Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Neighborhood resident Joe Manny, 32, had not expected the event to return as “normal.”
“I would always come to Coney Island every Fourth of July for this competition, so being back in person as we emerge from the pandemic feels great, because I didn’t think the world would get back to normal,” he said.