Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Wedding bells for hot dog champ

Joey Chestnut celebrates after successfully proposing to his girlfriend and fellow competitor Neslie Ricasa (AP)

Expert muncher Joey "Jaws" Chestnut dropped to one knee and proposed to his long-time girlfriend before Friday's annual US hot dog eating contest, then scoffed 61 dogs to hold on to his coveted mustard yellow winner's belt.

Chestnut fell far short of his record last year of 69 dogs and buns, but he still easily beat second-place finisher Matt Stonie, also of San Jose, who downed just 56.

"Winning was the only option," the newly engaged champion said afterwards. "I wasn't going to taint today with a loss."

Chestnut, 30, took a quick time out before the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island to make it official with his girlfriend, Neslie Ricasa, who is also a competitive eater.

In the women's division, defending champion Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas lost her title to Miki Sudo.

Sudo wolfed down 34 sausages and buns. Thomas was only able to devour 27 3/4.

Chestnut has won eight times in a row. In 2010, his former rival, Takeru Kobayashi, refused to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, the food equivalent of the NFL, and was banned from competition.

This year, the Japanese native, nicknamed the Tsunami, competed against five other eaters at a separate event in Manhattan in a quest to down the most hot dogs without buns in 10 minutes.

He was victorious in that bun-less eat-off, downing 113 frankfurters, an event spokeswoman said.

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