With every Fourth of July comes a few guarantees: Fireworks, cookouts, and the assurance that Joey Chestnut will hork down enough hot dogs in a 10-minute span to feed a small village. In what is practically a given at this point, Chestnut remained the Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest champion, consuming 62 wieners and buns for his 16th win — not enough to beat his 2021 record of 76 but more than enough to best second place by 14.
Much less predictable, however, was the weather. Those looking to watch America’s most-famed Glizzy Gobbler defend his title on Coney Island in New York had a more hectic afternoon than they bargained for as rain and lightning strikes delayed the event for two hours. Originally slated for noon Eastern, the weather pushed back the contest until 2 p.m., making for a far more damp affair than expected.
Whether or not the contest would even happen Tuesday caused confusion as well. Multiple news outlets had reported that the gorging was canceled, and New York Times reporter Liam Stack shared several tweets detailing a chaotic scene of attendees scrambling to get away from the rain and onto the subway.
Some security guards had also incorrectly told the crowd that the event was canceled, Stack tweeted, before the contest was confirmed for the later start time. By 2 p.m., it was more sparsely attended, as those escaping the rain had already left and those in attendance had to watch from sidewalks rather than the spectator area, Stack reported.
Prior to the rain, there’d already been some action with the women’s competition, with Miki Sudo —dominant in her own right — securing her ninth consecutive victory after eating 39.5 hot dogs, just short of the 40 she ate last year.
Finally, with the rain subsided, the men’s event commenced with Chestnut taking the stage with no shortage of dramatic flair.
“In all of history, only one man has stood to say that he will dictate what is and is not possible in this world,” the event’s emcee George Shea boisterously announced for Chestnut’s introduction. “Simultaneous and endless, erasing all cause and effect and opening all possibilities before us. He does not do it for money, he does not do it for glory, he does it for his people, he does it for his country, he does it for freedom. The gods shine down on us still because of him alone: the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July champion of the world, Joey Chestnut.”
And just 10 minutes later, with Chestnut still somehow composed even after rapidly consuming more than 18,000 calories (not including the buns), the mustard-yellow championship belt was once again his.
“The once and future king,” Shea dictated after Chestnut’s victory. “He has surpassed the kings of Egypt.”