He won again (sort of!).
Gustatory giant Joey “Jaws” Chestnut chomped down on his fifth straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Championship on Monday by pasting 16 hungry competitors gobbling down 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes — but former world champion Takeru Kobayashi ate a world record 69 HDBs in the same 10 minutes while competing simultaneously at an air-conditioned bar in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.
The bizarre stunt left the entire world wondering what to make of — and, indeed, how to judge — Chestnut’s fifth-straight victory, given that it came at the very same time as Kobayashi broke the San Jose star’s world record of 68 HDBs, albeit under decidedly different circumstances.
Kobayashi, of course, has been consumer non grata in the International Federation of Competitive Eating since he refused to sign a contract last year, then showed up at the contest anyway, and rushed the stage and was arrested. Later, he was unceremoniously removed from the Nathan’s Wall of Fame.
But watching the man-versus-dog competition on TV from Manhattan, Kobayashi was himself again, eating hot dogs like he once chowed down on pan-seared cow-brains — and, perhaps, achieving his most-important goal: ruining Chestnut’s day.
Indeed, the champ’s victory celebration was muted — but only briefly — when it was announced that Kobayashi ate 69 hot dogs and buns in the same 10 minutes.
Chestnut showed no signs of cracking up over the news.
“That wasn’t a competition, that was just him eating. I ate 71 hot dogs by myself once,” Chestnut said. “It was his choice not to be here.
“It’s sad that he thinks he’s Kobe Bryant,” Chestnut added, comparing Kobayashi to the showboating Los Angeles Laker who is planning an exhibition tour to China as the NBA continue heated talks with the players union over profit-sharing.
Since Kobayashi wasn’t actually in the Coney Island competition, his stomach-churning feat will not count, IFOCE organizers said.
But Chestnut’s real threat was standing right next to him: Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti kept the champion on his toes throughout the first half of the feeding frenzy — coming in second by downing a stunning 53 HDBs.
Bertoletti — whose goatee, shirt and hands were dyed red from the cherry and pink lemonade Crystal Light cocktail in which he dunks his buns — said he was proud to be within striking distance of a world champion.
“Joey might have won, but I was by far more revolting and gross,” said Bertoletti, who set a world record in Australia by downing a 22-ounce Slurpee in nine seconds. Bertoletti said that with a little more practice he could beat Chestnut next year.
“I just have to man up. I know I’m better than him,” he said. “I just haven’t shown him yet.”
Chestnut welcomed the challenge and already has a nickname for his competitor — Red Debris.
“[Bertoletti] was not giving up and he was making a serious mess,” Chestnut said. “Next year he’s going to push me harder, but that will give me more incentive to push myself harder.”
Bertoletti was caked in red gunk, but the real “red threat” — Chinese competitors Yat Ming Lam, Lu Ming Kui and Tai Loi Mak — posed no danger to Chestnut at all. All three treated the carnivorous competition like a Sunday picnic as they daintily gobbled down their dogs one at a time. None made it through his first plate of five HDBs by the five-minute mark.
Yet history was still made at the corner of Stillwell and Surf avenues on Monday: Sonia “The Black Widow” Thomas became the first winner of a separate but equal women’s championship by slamming 40 HDBs into her diminutive 5-foot-5 frame.
Thomas almost lost: Juliet Lee, the World Jellied Cranbury Sauce Eating Champion, was one hot dog ahead of her through most of the gorge fest. Lee ultimately came in second after eating 29-1/2 HDBs.
“She was ahead of me, but I said, ‘No way. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself 10 minutes later,’” Thomas said. “I pushed myself and did my best.”