It's over, the fat lady sang and Joey Chestnut walked away with his 4th win in a row at Surf & Stilwell today.
It was Chestnut, then Tim Janus (Eater X) and Patrick Bertoletti, 1, 2 and 3 throughout most of the 10 minutes with Bob Stoudt and Sonia "The Black Widow" Thomas occasionally trading third place. Chestnut put away 54 hot dogs and buns, far short of his prediction of 70 hot dogs and short of his previous record of 68 hot dogs last year. Janus ate 45 and Bertoletti ate 37.
Former champ Takeru Kobayashi was in the crowd but did not compete as he hadn't come to terms contractually. Besides a bit of hot dog smack talking, Chestnut said it a bit more bluntly "If he was a real man, he'd be on stage..."
After his victory, Chestnut could be seen taking a slug (NASCAR style) from a bottle of Pepto Bismo, one of the contest's sponsors. Heinz, Corona and Old Navy also sponsored the event and a giant inflatable catsup bottle was visible in the large crowd.
It was in the mid 90's for today's contest, with 60% humidity.
Nathan's prepared over 1000 hot dogs for the contest and estimate they'll serve another 100,000 to the crowd. Each hot dog and bun is approximately 279 calories so champ Chestnut downed approximately 20,000 calories for his win last year. Chestnut also holds a cheesesteak eating record of 19 six inch long cheesesteaks in 10 minutes (that's an incredible 8 feet 6 inches of meat, bun & cheese)...
The contestants included 5 rookies and a number of old timers such as Juliet Lee, Thomas, Eric "Badlands" Booker & Crazy Legs Conti; then there's somebody called "Flash Gordon" who holds the current poutine eating record of 8.5 pounds, another nicknamed "The Big Sexy" and Rookie of the Year, Ben Monson.
Announcements were handled by the Shea Brothers, George and Rich, long time promoters of this event and TV types Paul Page (we've seen him on numerous car shows) and Todd Harris. They are discussing doing the broadcast in 3-D next year and like one of the hosts said "Major League Eating is growing faster than Kirstie Alley..."
Finally, we saw a total of 2 vuvuzelas, those annoying horns from soccer games, which were outlawed for this contest.
UPDATE: Ex-champ crashes the party
Link courtesy of Alan Pesetsky
UPDATE II: Kobayashi released on OR
Link courtesy of Chris Masterson