NEW YORK – Chowdown champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut broke his own record for a 14th victory in the Nathan’s Famous Men’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Sunday, while Michelle Lesco took the women’s title.
Chestnut swallowed 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. That’s one more than he did setting the men’s record last year, when the contest ran without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It just felt good,” Chestnut, of Westfield, Indiana, said in an interview with ESPN after his win Sunday. “Even if it felt uncomfortable, having everyone cheering me on and pushing me made me feel good.”
Lesco, from Tucson, Arizona, knocked down 30 dogs in 10 minutes and called his victory “an incredible feeling.”
Reigning women’s champion and record holder Miki Sudo skipped this year because she is expecting a baby in a few weeks with her partner Nick Wehry. He competed for the men’s title, but fell short.
The annual 4th of July Sausage Festival typically occurs outside Nathan’s flagship store in Brooklyn’s Coney Island neighborhood. But this year’s planning took place amid changing coronavirus restrictions, with the event taking place at a nearby minor league baseball stadium, Maimonides Park, with 5,000 spectators.
Last year, it was held indoors and without an in-person audience due to the pandemic.
Chestnut, of Westfield, Indiana, said he missed fans last year.
“I’ve been looking forward to this all year,” he told ESPN in an interview before this year’s competition.