Live footage of the contest at Coney Island has been cut three times – including as the 37-year-old restaurant champion sucked up his 76th hot dog and bun outside a crowded stadium in Maimonides Park.
Chestnut eclipsed its previous record of 75 hot dogs and buns in 2020, when the competition took place at Nathan’s headquarters in Williamsburg with no audiences.
Sunday’s total exceeded that of Chestnut’s closest competitor, Geoffrey Esper, by 26 dogs.
Chestnut held the lead for the duration of the 10-minute contest. ESPN’s power began to cut for the last five minutes before going completely dark as Chestnut chewed on his 76th dog with the second remaining on the clock.
Fans were outraged to miss the historic finish.
“10 minutes, once a year, and you absolutely blew it up, @espn,” tweeted @notmalkinego. “After everything we’ve been through, we deserve to watch Joey Chestnut without a break. “
This victory marks Chestnut’s 14th place in the competition. Ranked number one in the world by Major League Eating, the California native has won all but one of Nathan’s contests since 2006.
“I had a pretty good idea that I could do it,” he told reporters after Sunday’s monstrous victory. “I just had to stay calm and not panic when things got a little tough and my body was working for me”
Nearly 5,000 people from across the country filled the stadium for the 2021 competition, eager to get back to normal after the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The day’s events also included the Women’s Hot Dog Tasting Contest. Winner Michelle Lesco, 37, demolished 30.75 dogs, seven more than the closest competitor.
“It’s a New York staple,” said Valerie Gagnon, 45, of Long Island. “That’s what July 4th is – it’s American, it’s hot dogs.” “
Raed Jarrar, who works for Nathan’s as chairman of his internal “BunBoy Nation” hype team, noted the wonderful weather.
“The weather has been bad all weekend, but today God knows he’ll be shining his sun on America for the hot dog eating contest,” said Jarrar, 40.
“For us to be back this year, I think it’s a sign that Americans are now united and that we are a strong people,” he added. “And we are united around the hot dogs, and we are united around the buns. Everything revolves around hot dogs, everything revolves around buns.