It was another record-setting Fourth of July in Coney Island at Nathan’s Annual International Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Thousands of attendees witnessed Joey Chestnut claim victory once again, taking home his 11th championship, and breaking a world record by stuffing 74 hot dogs down his gullet in just 10 minutes, besting his previous record by just a single hot dog.
On the women’s side, Miki Sudo was victorious for the fifth straight year, eating 37 franks.
Major League Eating (MLE) Commissioner and emcee for the event George Shea described the event as another success.
“We had a variety of really great acts, a beautiful summer day and a spectacularly huge crowd that was just really into it. From that element, it was grand slam home run,” he said.
However, the contest wasn’t without controversy. For the first time since its inception in 1972, there was an error with the count which originally had Chestnut eating 64 hot dogs instead of his actual record-breaking number — a number that was given to ESPN that was broadcasting the event.
The error, Shea said, came because of the number of hot dogs piled in front of Carmen Cincotti and Chestnut. “It made it difficult for the judges or counters to get it right,” he explained. “When the judges looked at the conclusion, it was clear that Joey had eaten more than originally thought; likewise with Carmen because it was just a mountain of hot dogs in front.” But, he added, the system put in place clarified the situation, and the count was corrected.
“[Chestnut] wanted to break his record and our credibility is on the line. And we did get the right count,” he added. “Our job at Major League Eating is to get the right count and run a fair contest. We did but the counters messed up. I was telling the thousands of people there the wrong numbers and ESPN was reporting the wrong numbers initially. At the end, we got it right. But it was extremely frustrating for everyone, Joey Chestnut included.”
The counters’ “one job [is] to count correctly and they didn’t do their job,” Shea said. “That’s just the facts. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It won’t happen again. We are going to adjust this.”
Shea pointed out that Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez was present and helped confirm the correct count.
“To have the Brooklyn DA there was fortunate. He came over, and we went through everything with the plates, the eaters and the Nathan’s staff,” he said. “He got the same count.”
Despite the mishap, Shea was thrilled to participate once again. “It is a singular pleasure in my life. I enjoy it so much and the crowd is just so much fun to connect with,” he said. “The vibe is just incredible. A lot of it is because of the crowd. It’s truly gratifying on every level.”
It’s part, Shea added, of what makes Coney Island special. “It’s not luck to have these things,” he said. “Coney Island has great events because it’s Coney Island. Only they do things like this. There’s a magic to it. That’s why we have so much attention. It’s a special place.”