Joey Chestnut overcame a crowded field and an injured right leg on Monday en route to his 15th career win at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest. He also took down an unexpected obstacle mid-contest in the form of a stage-crashing protestor.
Shortly after downing his 17th dog, protestors stormed the platform dressed in Star Wars garb and holding signs reading “Expose Smithfield’s Death Star,” an apparent protest against pork producer Smithfield Foods. Chestnut was uninterested in being thrown off his stride. Rather than seek the help of event security, he handled the situation himself.
Chestnut put the protestor in a headlock and quickly threw him aside before carrying on with the hot dog eating procedures. He eventually finished the day with 63 hot dogs downed.
Chestnut has now won the annual frank fest for the seventh consecutive season and the 15th time in the past 16, but this is the first time he’s had to deal with a stage intruder (and an injured leg). Let’s see what obstructions he’ll have to overcome in 2023.
Joey Chestnut fights off protesters during hot dog eating contest to win
While the competitive-eating legend was in the midst of winning the 2022 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest for the 15th time on Sunday in Brooklyn, protesters rushed the stage.
One of the protesters — wearing a Darth Vader mask and holding a sign that read “Expose Smithfield Deathstar” — bumped Chestnut out of position as he was downing his 18th hot dog. Chestnut wrapped his arm around the neck of the protester and helped pull them to the ground.
Chestnut immediately resumed eating his hot dog and security removed the protester.
Three people were taken into custody and charges are pending, according to TMZ.
Animal activist group Direct Action Everywhere tweeted that disrupting the contest was in protest of Smithfield Foods, Nathan’s pork supplier.
Chestnut, who arrived at the event on crutches due to a ruptured tendon in his leg, went on to eat 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win the event for the seventh consecutive year. He finished 15.5 hot dogs ahead of second-place Geoffrey Esper, the No. 2-ranked eater.