By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In a moment that he'll relish forever, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend before he roasted the competition in the annual Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island last Friday.
Chestnut won the competition by eating 61 hot dogs to hold onto the mustard yellow belt. Last year, he won by eating 69 hot dogs and buns. The second place finisher, Matt Stonie from San Jose, only managed to put away 56 franks.
"Winning was the only option," Chestnut said afterward. "I wasn't going to taint today with a loss."
Chestnut’s girlfriend, and now fiancee, Neslie Ricasa, who is also a competitive eater, lost in the women's portion of the contest to Miki Sudo, a Las Vegas native that scarfed down 34 dogs. Last year’s defending women’s champion Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas only managed to eat 27 hot dogs after she ate a record 45 last year.
Chestnut has now won the competition eight times in a row. His biggest competitor, Takeru Kobayashi, who had won the previous six contests, was banned in 2010 after he refused to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, the league that organizes the event.
The hot dog eating competition has been held at Nathan's in Coney Island every year since 1972. A separate women's bracket was created in 2011 with Thomas taking home the inaugural pink belt.