New York — Patrick Bertoletti devoured 58 hot dogs to secure his first men’s title at the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest on Thursday, capitalizing on the absence of the event’s most celebrated competitor. In the women’s competition, defending champion Miki Sudo triumphed for the 10th time and set a new world record by consuming 51 hot dogs.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, the reigning men’s champion and victor of 16 out of 17 previous contests, did not participate this year due to a dispute with the organizers. Instead, he competed later in the day against four soldiers at a U.S. Army base in El Paso, Texas, where he consumed 57 hot dogs in five minutes.

Bertoletti, 39, from Chicago, emerged victorious in a tightly contested 10-minute race where the lead shifted back and forth, outperforming 13 contenders from across the globe. He revealed that he shed weight and dedicated three months to rigorous training, approaching the event with a heightened sense of purpose, believing he had a strong chance of winning.

“With Joey not here, I knew I had a shot,” Bertoletti said. “I was able to unlock something that I don’t know where it came from.”

Bertoletti surpassed his previous record of 55 hot dogs at the event, which takes place every Independence Day on New York’s Coney Island, a coastal destination known for its amusement parks and lively summer atmosphere.

Earlier, in the women’s competition, Sudo, a 38-year-old dental hygiene student from Florida, once again emerged victorious and set a new record a year after consuming 39 1/2 hot dogs in 2023.

“I’m just happy to call this mine for another year,” Sudo said after winning the pink belt.

Sudo triumphed over 13 competitors, including 28-year-old rival Mayoi Ebihara of Japan, who secured second place after consuming 37 hot dogs. She also finished as runner-up in 2023.

Sudo also outperformed her partner, former Florida bodybuilder Nicholas Wehry, who consumed 46 hot dogs in the men’s competition.

Bertoletti’s victory marks the first time the coveted mustard belt has gone to someone other than Chestnut since 2015.

Thousands of fans, some sporting foam hot dog hats, gather every year for the event held outside the original Nathan’s location in Coney Island. Rich Shea, CEO of event organizer Major League Eating, observed how people still turned out in large numbers even without Chestnut’s presence.

“Just a great competitor, a great guy, a grown man, and a man who’s made a choice not to be here today,” he said of the popular eating champion on ESPN. “But fortunately for us, tens of thousands of people are crowding around Nathan’s Famous. It’s a pilgrimage every year. This is not a paid Hollywood crowd.”

Competitors came from over a dozen states and five continents, with prospects from Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia and the Czech Republic vying for the coveted title and $10,000 prize money.

Last year, of Indiana, secured the title by consuming 62 dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The record, which he set in 2021, is 76.

Chestnut was initially from the event due to a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods, which specializes in plant-based meat substitutes and which advertised on ESPN throughout the event Thursday.

Major League Eating has since stated that it reversed the ban, but Chestnut opted to spend the holiday with the troops instead. Chestnut asserted that he would not return to the Coney Island contest without an apology.

The event in El Paso was held on an Army base that’s not easily accessible to the public. Nonetheless, a few hundred fans showed up to support Chestnut, some sporting hot dog costumes and another wearing a T-shirt that read, “Let Joey eat.” Chestnut’s tally of 57 bested the four Fort Bliss soldiers, who consumed a combined 49.

Prior to the event, Chestnut expressed concern that he might not perform well without the support of the large and boisterous Coney Island crowd. However, afterward, he stated that he had achieved a “record-setting pace.”

“I love you guys,” Chestnut told the fans at Fort Bliss after acknowledging the military service of his father, grandfather, and brother. “You guys pushed me so hard, thank you so much.”

The event was sponsored by Impossible Foods, although its vegan products were not used in the competition. Company CEO Peter McGuinness appeared on stage with Chestnut and representatives of Operation Homefront, a charity that supports military families. He presented the organization with a $106,000 donation check; $1,000 for each hot dog eaten.

Chestnut will next compete with professional rival Takeru Kobayashi on Sept. 2 in a .


Haigh reported from Norwich, Connecticut.