NEW YORK >> High-ranking chowhound Joey "Jaws" Chestnut dropped to one knee and proposed to his longtime girlfriend before Friday’s annual hot dog eating contest, then packed away 61 franks and buns to hold onto his coveted mustard yellow winner’s belt.
The San Jose, California, man 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.
Chestnut, 30, took a quick timeout before the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island to make it official with his longtime 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, of Las Vegas, wolfed down 34 franks and buns. Thomas, of Alexandria, Virginia, was only able to devour 27 3/4.
Chestnut has won eight times in a row now. In 2010, his former rival, Takeru Kobayashi, 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 will compete against five other competitive eaters at a separate event on Fifth Avenue in a quest to down the most hot dogs without buns in 10 minutes.