Joey Chestnut almost knocks out Nathan's contest winner during performance at Army base in Texas


Joey Chestnut ate 57 hot dogs and buns in a five-minute performance at Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, Texas, on Thursday, July 4th.

That was one point short of the winning mark in the men's 10-Minute Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest held at Coney Island, from which chestnuts were banned this year.

“I was pushing too hard at the beginning,” Chestnut said after eating 57 hot dogs and buns. “I slowed down a little bit. For a moment I thought I could get to 60.

“I wasn't backing down.”

Pat Bertoletti ate 58 hot dogs in a Nathan's contest earlier in the day and won the mustard belt awarded to the champion. He was one of four contestants to eat 50 or more dogs this year – something no one did last year when Chestnut won his 16th title with 62 hot dogs.

“Those guys did a great job,” Chestnut told USA TODAY Sports via text. “Much better than last year. I'm very happy for Pat.”

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Competitive eater Joey Chestnut (right) celebrates after eating 13 olive burgers in five minutes before a minor league baseball game at Jackson Field on August 10, 2023 in Lansing, Michigan.Competitive eater Joey Chestnut (right) celebrates after eating 13 olive burgers in five minutes before a minor league baseball game at Jackson Field on August 10, 2023 in Lansing, Michigan.

Competitive eater Joey Chestnut (right) celebrates after eating 13 olive burgers in five minutes before a minor league baseball game at Jackson Field on August 10, 2023 in Lansing, Michigan.

While preparing for the exhibition in El Paso, Chestnut, 40, set a goal: Eat as many hot dogs and buns in five minutes as the winner at Nathan's ate in 10 minutes.

“I would be so happy to do that,” said Chestnut, who set the Nathan's record in 2021 with 76 hot dogs and buns.

Chestnut was barred from competing this year because he signed an endorsement deal with Impossible Foods. The company launched a plant-based hot dog, and George Shea of ​​Major League Eating, which runs Nathan's contests, said Chestnut's partnership with Impossible Foods was a conflict of interest in Nathan's eyes.

Though Chestnut's fans didn't get a chance to see him during the ESPN broadcast, his exhibition from the Army base was livestreamed on his YouTube page and was watched by nearly 19,000 people. He competed against four soldiers who ate a combined total of 49 hot dogs and buns.

“There's definitely a lot of pain. There's a little sadness,” Chestnut told USA TODAY Sports last week about Nathan's ban.

But he said it did not compare to the situation he faced in 2022, when he competed less than three weeks after his mother's death and with a broken leg.

“This situation is really bad, but it's not as bad as that situation,” Chestnut said. “I was able to get out of that situation and I was able to get out of that year when I lost (to Matt Stonie in 2015) and come back stronger. I'm going to get out of this and we'll see where it takes me.”

This article originally appeared on USA Today: How Joey Chestnut fared compared to the winner of the Nathan's hot dog contest


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