Chestnut, who arrived Monday on crutches with his lower right leg in a cast, knocked down 63 hot dogs and sandwiches in 10 minutes. That was 13 less than the record of 76 he smashed last year, but more than enough for the 38-year-old to hold off his closest competitor, Geoffrey Esper, who finished with 47½. Miki Sudo won her eighth women’s title earlier in the day.
“It hurts when I walk, but I can stand and I can eat, and I’m going to push my limits,” Chestnut, who recently suffered a tendon in his leg while running, told ESPN before the game.
Chestnut opened an 11 hot dog lead three minutes after Monday’s event and rode to his seventh straight title since being upset by Matt Stonie in 2015. He was unfazed by a person in a Darth Vader mask who made his way to the front of the podium and unfolded a sign next to him halfway through the match. Chestnut deploys the intruder a short chokehold before returning his attention to the hot dogs on the table in front of him.
As ESPN helpfully pointed out, Chestnut has now won one more mustard yellow championship belt (15) than Rafael Nadal the French Open titles. Japanese Takeru Kobayashi has won the next most Nathan’s Famous hot dog titles with six consecutive titles from 2001 to 2006.
The Independence Day spectacle, which began in 1916, returned to Nathan’s flagship location in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn for the first time since 2019. In 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the match took place in a private venue and without spectators. Last year’s event was held at the home base of the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones with a limited attendance.
“We’re back! We’re back!” Major League Eating announcer George Shea yelled before the game started in front of a large crowd on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenue.
“It’s wonderful to be here in front of this crowd again,” said Chestnut after winning his 15th hot dog eating title in the past 16 years. “New York is amazing and there is no place like it in the world.”
Sudo, who missed the event last year because she was pregnant, won her eighth women’s title by eating 40 hot dogs and sandwiches. Michelle Lesco, who won the 2021 title, finished second. Sudo broke the women’s record with 48½ hot dogs in 2020, when she captured her seventh straight title.
“I knew I was excited to come back, but the feeling you get once you get here is not like anything else,” Sudo told ESPN.
Sudo, 36, met her husband, fellow competitive eater Nick Wehry, at the 2018 hot dog eating contest. Wehry held onto the couple’s son, Max, who turns one on Friday, while Sudo recaptured her title on Monday. Wehry later took part in the men’s division.