Bertoletti downs 58 hotdogs to fill gaping void left by Joey Chestnut

By The Guardian (World News) | Created at 2024-07-04 18:00:30 | Updated at 2024-07-21 19:10:27 2 weeks ago
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Patrick Bertoletti of Chicago has won his first title at the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hotdog eating contest.

Bertoletti won by consuming 58 hotdogs in a tight, 10-minute race in which the lead bounced back and forth between competitors. In doing so, he surpassed his previous personal best of 55 hotdogs.

“I wasn’t going to stop eating until the job was done,” Bertoletti said.

The 39-year-old defeated 13 competitors from around the world. But the main story was the absence of the 16-time men’s champion, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who didn’t attend the competition this year after a sponsorship tiff.

Last year Chestnut chewed his way to the title by downing 62 dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The record, which he set in 2021, is 76. But Chestnut was initially disinvited from this year’s event over a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods, a plant-based meat company. Major League Eating, which organizes the Nathan’s Famous contest, has since said it walked back the ban, but Chestnut said he wouldn’t return to the Coney Island contest without an apology.

Instead, he was scheduled to eat at an event at the Fort Bliss army base in El Paso later on Thursday. The competition will use traditional franks, with Chestnut attempting to out-eat four soldiers in five minutes.

Even though he won’t be eating their vegan products, Impossible Foods is promoting Chestnut’s YouTube livestream of the exhibition by flying airplanes with banners over Los Angeles and Miami.

Chestnut’s absence from the Nathan’s competition was big enough news for New York’s mayor, Eric Adams, to become involved. Adams said on X that all parties involved should “stop being such weenies”. He said it would be “impossible” to hold the contest without Chestnut, adding, “Let’s find a way to squash this beef and bring back the champ …”

Chestnut, who is estimated to have made $4m from competitive eating last year, is also scheduled to face his long-time rival, Takeru Kobayashi, in a showdown on Netflix in September.

Earlier on Thursday, defending champion Miki Sudo of Florida won her 10th title in the women’s division. Sudo consumed 51 hotdogs in 10 minutes, setting a new women’s world record.

“I’m just happy to call this mine for another year,” Sudo said after winning her 10th title.

Sudo defeated 13 competitors from around the world Thursday, including her 28-year-old rival, Mayoi Ebihara of Japan. Ebihara came in second after eating 37 hotdogs in 10 minutes. She was also the runner-up in 2023.

Thousands of fans flock each year to the event held outside the original Nathan’s location in Brooklyn’s Coney Island. Competitors came from more than a dozen states and five continents, with prospects from Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia and the Czech Republic vying for the coveted title and $10,000 prize money.

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