Winning his eighth consecutive Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest wasn't enough for Joey Chestnut so he decided to spice up the festivities Friday. Before the competition, Chestnut got on one knee to propose to girlfriend Neslie Ricasa.
Ricasa immediately said yes. Then Chestnut went on to make the day all the more special by holding off the challenge of fellow San Jose native Matt "Megatoad" Stonie 61-56.
"I knew he was close," Chestnut said on ESPN. "This kid is fast. The hot dogs were slow today. The weather slowed everything down. I could never find my rhythm. It was just a dogfight the entire time."
Chestnut, who set the record with 69 hot dogs last year, trailed Stonie 38-36 at the halfway mark of the 10-minute event. Stonie had beaten Chestnut last year at a gyoza (dumplings) competition in Los Angeles.
With three minutes left, it was 47-47. With two minutes left, it was 51-51. Then with one minute left, Chestnut led 55-54. He opened his lead to 58-56 with 30 seconds left to secure the victory.
After matching UCLA basketball (1967-1973) with seven consecutive titles last year and the Boston Celtics (1959-1966) with eight this year, next up for Chestnut is Iowa's nine straight NCAA wrestling championships (1978-1986).
Stonie also finished second last year, and he closed the gap from 69-51 to 61-56.
Takeru Kobayashi was the runnerup in Chestnut's first three Nathan's championships. But Kobayashi hasn't competed in the Nathan's competition since 2010 after refusing to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating.
For the first time since Nathan's created a women's division in 2011, 47-year-old Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas is not the champion.
Miki Sudo of Las Vegas beat Thomas by eating 34 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Thomas finished 27 ¾, a drop from her winning total of 36 ¾ last year and the record of 45 she established in 2012.
Sudo, 28, said her goal was to also break Thomas' record but the rain was a factor.
"To be the first person to beat Sonya Thomas at hot dogs is surreal," Sudo said. “I think both of us are hoping to break the existing world record of 45 in 10 minutes but weather conditions got in the way but we’ll definitely be back to set a higher number."