‘An amazing way to spend the Fourth’: Scenes From Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest  

With 16-time winner Joey Chestnut barred from the competition after signing on with a vegan hot dog manufacturer, the men’s field at Coney Island’s annual Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest was wide open this year. And for much of the 10-minute competitive eating race, at least four men were neck-and-neck … or glizzy-and-glizzy.

In the end, though, Chicagoan Patrick Bertoletti took home the prestigious Mustard Belt and $10,000 by shoving 58 water-logged dogs down his throat. Geoffrey Esper came in second place, and won $5000, by eating 53 hot dogs. James Webb, with 52, and Nick Wehry, with 51-and-three-quarters, were right behind the money winners.

Bertoletti: American exceptionalism (Photo by Scott Lynch)

Chestnut is treated like a rock star among Major League Eating fans, but his absence on Thursday after so many years didn’t seem to affect the in-person attendance here in front of Nathan’s Famous, as thousands of people crowded into NYPD viewing pens at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues to witness the spectacle.

Got that dog in ’em (Photo by Scott Lynch)

Christina Bronk flew in from Florida to spend her Independence Day in Brooklyn, arriving at Coney at 5 a.m. to ensure a spot in the front row. “We’ve watched the contest on TV for 20 years,” she told Brooklyn Magazine. “It’s just fantastic to be here in person. It’s a piece of Americana. You don’t mess with tradition. And with Joey gone we think it’s going to be an exciting one.”

Earlier in the day the women’s race was dominated by Floridian Miki Sudo, who won the title for the tenth time by downing a record 51 glizzies in 10 minutes. Sudo also took home $10,000. In second place was Mayoi Ebihara, from Japan, who broke down in tears after wolfing 37 hot dogs. Former champion Michelle Lesco came in third with 23-and-a-half dogs (she won in 2021, when Sudo sat out the event at eight months pregnant), and the top three women embraced on stage after the contest.

Ten-time champion Miki Sudo, who ate a world record 51 hot dogs for the win (Photo by Scott Lynch)

A side competition broke out between the men’s and women’s events: a lemonade guzzling contest which was won handily by Eric “Badlands” Booker, who chugged a gallon of the stuff in 21 seconds, a new world record. And this was after Booker defeated George Shea — Park Slope resident, founder of Major League Eating, and the event’s inimitable emcee — in a rap battle.

Shea: A winning emcee, if not the winning MC (Photo by Scott Lynch)

Shea, by the way, seemed eager to deflect the wrath of Chestnutheads in the audience, and expressed his love and respect for the eating legend in typical mock heroic fashion. “I would take a bullet — A BULLET — for Joey Chestnut,” he said.

“We’ve been coming here for the past six or seven years,” said Jose Guttierez of Jamaica, Queens. “It’s a Fourth of July tradition for us. We love hot dogs. We love Nathan’s. And the vibe here is great. You get that feeling of summer. It’s an amazing way to spend the Fourth.”

The crowd cuts the mustard (Photo by Scott Lynch)

The post ‘An amazing way to spend the Fourth’: Scenes From Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest   appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.

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