Joey Chestnut puts protester in brief chokehold during his Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest victory
A bizarre incident unfolded Monday early on in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest when a protester rushed the stage and bumped into 15-time champion Joey Chestnut.
As security rushed to remove the protester, Chestnut briefly took matters into his own hands – literally. Chestnut, in the middle of his competitive eating prowess with his face stuffed with hot dogs, grew frustrated with the distracting stage rusher and put the person into a mini chokehold.
A security guard removed the fan quickly after the brief exchange with Chestnut. And without skipping a beat, Chestnut went right back to eating hot dogs as the person was taken off the stage.
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The protester was wearing a Darth Vader mask with a sign that read, "Expose Smithfield's Deathstar," an apparent reference to protesting against the treatment of factory farm animals.
Chestnut was well off his best Monday despite handily winning the Mustard Belt for the seventh time in a row by devouring 63 frankfurters. He told USA TODAY Sports prior he was "going for 80," in an attempt to eclipse his 2021 record of 76.
Messages made by USA TODAY on Monday to Nathan's Famous and ESPN regarding security and the footage shortly after the contest were not immediately returned.