Joey Chestnut Sets New Record at Post-Pandemic Hot Dog Race

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NEW YORK—Chowdown champ Joey “Jaws” Chestnut broke his own record to gulp to a 14th win in the men’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Sunday, while Michelle Lesco took the women’s title.

Chestnut downed 76 franks and buns in 10 minutes. That’s one more than he did in setting the men’s record last year, when the contest unfolded without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It just felt good,” Chestnut, of Westfield, Indiana, said in an ESPN interview after his win Sunday. “Even if I was uncomfortable, having everybody cheer me and push me, it made me feel good.”

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Winners Joey Chestnut and Michelle Lesco, obscured behind hot dogs, pose at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Coney Island’s Maimonides Park in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, on July 4, 2021. (Brittainy Newman/AP Photo)

Lesco, of Tucson, Arizona, downed 30 ¾ dogs in 10 minutes and called her win “an amazing feeling.”

Reigning women’s champ and record-holder Miki Sudo skipped this year because she’s expecting a baby in a few weeks with fellow competitive eater Nick Wehry. He vied for the men’s title but came up short.

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Hot dogs are stacked on platters before the world’s best eating athletes go head-to-head in the 10-minute, all-you-can-eat contest at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Coney Island’s Maimonides Park in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, on July 4, 2021. (Brittainy Newman/AP Photo)

The annual Fourth of July frankfurter fest normally happens outside Nathan’s flagship shop in Brooklyn’s Coney Island neighborhood. But this year’s planning took place amid shifting coronavirus restrictions, and the event was held in a nearby minor league baseball stadium, Maimonides Park, with 5,000 spectators.

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Fans cheer on contestant Larell Marie Mele (L) before going onstage at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Coney Island’s Maimonides Park in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, on July 4, 2021. (Brittainy Newman/AP Photo)

Last year, it was held indoors and without an in-person audience because of the pandemic.

Chestnut said he’d missed the fans last year.

“I’ve been looking forward to this all year,” he told ESPN in an interview before this year’s competition.



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