Will you marry meat?
That was the question popped by hot-dog-eating legend Joey “Jaws” Chestnut on Friday when he proposed to girlfriend and fellow competitive eater Neslie Ricasa less than an hour before scarfing down 61 wieners and buns in 10 minutes to win his eighth straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island.
Ricasa said “yes” and Chestnut beat out upstart and fellow Californian Matt “Megatoad” Stonie after breaking away in the final minute of a neck-and-neck competition. Chestnut said it would never have been close had it not been for the rain.
“I could never find my rhythm, so it was just a dogfight the whole time,” Chestnut told the television cameras after falling way short of last year’s record of 69.
Stonie stalled in the closing moments, finishing at a mere 56 hot dogs and buns after matching Chestnut frank for frank for most of nine minutes.
Audience members who braved the rain to watch the gladiatorial gluttony cheered the feats, though one got ill thinking of having to foot the bill for Chestnut’s intake.
“I’m just glad I don’t have to take him to lunch,” said Frank Concerto, a Chestnut fan.
Others in the crowd said there was nowhere more patriotic in the country to be.
“It’s not much more American than that,” said Dan Mills, who traveled from Washington, D.C. to see the scarf-off.
Chestnut’s fiancee Ricasa downed just 10 dogs, trailing the pack in the women’s division, which was rocked by an upset when Miki Sudo put away 34 dogs and buns to defending three-time champ Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas’s 27 3/4.
The defeat must have been hard for Thomas to swallow after cramming in a record 45 last year.
— with Vanessa Ogle