NEW YORK – Joey Chestnut chomped down a record 68 hot dogs, capturing his third straight July Fourth hot-dog eating contest at Coney Island, an annual showcase for flamboyant hot-dogging contestants eager to show they really are what they eat.
Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., hoisted the American flag and then stood proudly like an Olympic athlete as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played following his 68 to 64 1/2 dog victory over his archrival, six-time titleholder Takeru Kobayashi.
As soon as he knew he had won, he shot his right fist into the air, his mouth still bulging while he chewed the last of his wieners at Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.
“This is great,” Chestnut told ESPN, which broadcast the 10-minute contest live. “After the second minute, I knew that my body was cooperating and it was going to be hard to beat me.”
The 25-year-old Chestnut led most of the way, seemingly coasting to victory in contrast to last year, when he and his Japanese rival both gobbled 59 hot dogs, forcing a dramatic five-hot dog eat-off before Chestnut emerged victorious.