Patrick Bertoletti of Chicago devoured 58 hot dogs to claim his first men’s title at the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest at Coney Island. Bertoletti, 39, emerged victorious in a tight 10-minute race against 13 international competitors.

“I wasn’t going to stop eating until the job was done,” Bertoletti said, besting his previous record of 55 hot dogs. Reigning champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who has won 16 out of the last 17 competitions, sat out due to a sponsorship dispute. Chestnut competed against soldiers at a U.S. Army base in El Paso instead.

Bertoletti prepared for three months, losing weight and practicing with urgency. “With Joey not here, I knew I had a shot,” he said.

Earlier in the day, defending champion Miki Sudo of Florida won her 10th title in the women’s division, eating 51 hot dogs in 10 minutes and setting a new world record. Sudo, a 38-year-old dental hygiene student, beat her rival, Mayoi Ebihara of Japan, who consumed 37 hot dogs.

Patrick Bertoletti Claims Victory at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
Hot dogs are piled high on a plate in preparation for Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest on Thursday.

Bertoletti’s victory marks the first time since 2015 that someone other than Chestnut has won the mustard belt. Thousands of fans, some wearing foam hot dog hats, gathered at the original Nathan’s location in Brooklyn’s Coney Island to watch the event. Rich Shea, CEO of Major League Eating, emphasized the excitement and dedication of the fans.

Competitors from over a dozen states and five continents, including Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, and the Czech Republic, competed for the coveted title and $10,000 prize. Last year, Chestnut won by eating 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes, holding the record of 76 set in 2021.

Chestnut’s absence was due to a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods, which advertised on ESPN during the event. Major League Eating initially disinvited Chestnut but later reversed the ban. However, Chestnut chose to spend the holiday with the troops, participating in an event at Fort Bliss army base in El Paso.

Even though he won’t be eating their vegan products, Impossible Foods is promoting Chestnut’s YouTube livestream of the exhibition, flying banners over Los Angeles and Miami, and donating to a military family support organization based on the number of hot dogs eaten at the event.