Joey Chestnut broke his own world record at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Sunday — a Fourth of July feat much of America missed thanks to ESPN’s shoddy live feed.
Live footage from the contest in Coney Island cut out three times — including just as the 37-year-old eating champ hoovered up his 76th hot dog and bun in front of a packed Maimonides Park stadium.
Chestnut eclipsed his previous record of 75 hot dogs and buns in 2020, when the competition was held at Nathan’s headquarters in Williamsburg without an audience.
Sunday’s total topped that of Chestnut’s closest competitor, Geoffrey Esper, by 26 dogs.
Chestnut held the lead for the entirety of the 10-minute contest. ESPN’s feed began to cut in and out in the last five minutes before going entirely dark as Chestnut chewed his 76th dog with second remaining on the clock.
Fans were outraged to miss the historic finish.
“10 minutes, once a year, and you absolutely blew it, @espn,” tweeted @notmalkinego. “after all we’ve been through, we deserve to watch joey chestnut without interruption.”
The victory marks Chestnut’s 14th at the competition. Ranked number one in the world by Major League Eating, the California native has won all but one Nathan’s contest since 2006.
Thousands of people from across the country packed the stadium for the 2021 competition, eager to get back to normal after the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a staple of New York,” said Valerie Gagnon, 45, of Long Island. “This is what 4th of July is – it’s American, it’s hot dogs.”
Raed Jarrar, who works for Nathan’s as president of its in-house “BunBoy Nation” hype team, noted the glorious weather.
“The weather sucked the whole weekend, but today, God knows to shine his sun down on America for the Hot Dog Eating Contest,” said Jarrar, 40.
“For us to be back this year I think is a sign that Americans are now united, and that we are one strong people,” he added. “And we’re united around hot dogs, and we’re united around the buns. It’s all about the hot dogs, it’s all about the buns.”
Organizers have promised to return to the contest’s historic staging ground outside the Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue for next year’s competition.