Though legend has the competition dating back as far as 1916, 1972 is the first year official contest records exist.
George Shea, who was above all others unperturbed by the foul weather, emceed the event in his typically enthusiastic fashion, even breaking into a flawless freestyle in his introduction of competitive eater and rapper Badlands Booker.
In the women’s contest, title defender Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas failed to suppress rival Miki Sudo, who became the second woman to clasp the title since the separate women’s division was created in 2011. Sudo consumed 34 hot dogs to Thomas’ 27 3/4 and third place Michelle Lesco’s 27.
Distractions from the drizzle included a trampoline display, a pushup contest between the Bun Boys, a Broadway performance, a ten-foot pedal car race between a pair of Indy 500 winners and music by Buffalo-based band, The Heavenly Chillbillies.
Nathan’s also donated 100,000 hot dogs to the New York City Food Bank. Oh, and before competing, Joey Chestnut proposed to his girlfriend of three years, Neslie Ricasa, who also participated in the women’s competition.
Prior to the men’s competition, there was some speculation that challenger Mike Stoney may unseat Joey Chestnut, who has won the competition for the past seven years consecutively.
Throughout the ten minutes of bun-and-dog stuffing, the lead was held early on by Tim “Eater X” Janus, after which Stonie took over until the last two minutes of the competition, when Chestnut broke through to win with 61 hot dogs to Stony’s 56 and Janus’ 44.
Chestnut hoped to beat his current record of 69 dogs and buns, but afterwards he told ESPN that the weather slowed everything down, and he was unable to find his rhythm.