San Jose eating champ Joey Chestnut wins 15th Nathan’s Hot Dog crown

NEW YORK — Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut gobbled his way to a 15th win Monday at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, powering down 63 hot dogs and buns at the annual exhibition of excess.

In a decisive chowdown comeback, women’s record-holder Miki Sudo downed 40 wieners and buns to win the women’s title after skipping last year’s frank fest because she was pregnant.

Monday also marked the contest’s return to its traditional location outside Nathan’s flagship shop in Brooklyn’s Coney Island neighborhood. The event was relocated in 2020 and last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s beautiful to be back here” in front of a throng of spectators, Chestnut told ESPN after his feat, which the 38-year-old managed while wearing a surgical boot because of a leg injury.

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Joey Chestnut reacts after winning first place, eating 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes, during the 2022 Nathans Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4, 2022 at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The contest, which has happened every year since 1972, has returned in front of Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue this year.KENA BETANCUR/GETTY IMAGES

“It hurts, but I was in the zone for a little bit. I was ignoring it,” said Chestnut, but the pain eventually slowed his pace in the 10-minute competition.

Last year, the San Jose State University alum who now resides in Westfield, Indiana, resident topped his own record by consuming 76 franks and buns.

Sudo, of Tampa, Florida, set the women’s record at 48 1/2 weiners and buns in 2020, before taking last year off while expecting. She and Nick Wehry — a fellow competitive eater whom she met through the Nathan’s contest in 2018 — welcomed son Max on July 8, 2021.

From dad’s arms, the baby watched his 36-year-old mother notch her eighth Nathan’s win. She told ESPN afterward that she hoped he would someday take a message away from it.

“I want to set an example,” she said, “to do things that you love and push yourself to your absolute limits and, when things get difficult, to still give it a try. And, you know, you might actually just come out victorious.”

Sudo then took over parenting duties while Wehry tried for the men’s title.

In conjunction with the spectacle, Nathan’s donates 100,000 franks to the Food Bank for New York City.

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