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Nathan’s hot dog eating contest competitor apologizes after cheating charges

by ballyhooglobal.com
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This year’s Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest seems to be attracting Olympic levels of drama.

First, Joey Chestnut — the man widely considered greatest professional eater of all time — was disqualified from participating in the event that he had long dominated after taking on an endorsement deal with a vegan-meat company. And now, a competitor in this year’s July 4 contest is apologizing for “raising any questions over the results of the event” after accusations that he inflated his score.

Nick Wehry, who finished fourth, has maintained that he did not cheat. But on Thursday, he asked the event’s administrator to reduce his score after video was revealed showing him touching another competitor’s plates after the competition was over. “Because I did touch another eater’s plates and because this gives the appearance or possibility of impropriety I have asked Major League Eating to adjust my score down,” he said in a statement provided to The Washington Post.

MLE, which oversees the event, said it had conducted its own investigation and said that it would comply with Wehry’s request.

When Wehry finished the contest last week, judges found that he had eaten 46.75 hot dogs and buns in the 10 minutes allotted. Moments after that count, though, he asked to have the officials check his results again, and they determined that there was another plate in his “finished” stack — the contest relies on the number of plates consumed, each of which contains five dogs. That recount gave him a new score of 51.75 — which didn’t change any of the standings, but it did place Wehry in an elite group within the demimonde of competitive eating: those brave souls who have consumed more than 50 hot dogs in a competition.

This week, the New York Post — in a story with the headline “Buns of Steal” — reported that several unnamed people had accused Wehry of tampering with the plates to add to his score. On a website devoted to competitive eating, EatFeats, an anonymous commenter posted links to videos of the events with timestamps pointing to moments when the commenter alleged that Wehry added to his plate count.

Alerted to these accusations, MLE said it looked into the matter, but ultimately did not overturn the score before being asked to do so. “MLE investigated the incident, carefully considering the complaint and reviewing the videos provided to us,” the organization said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Like many other professional sports leagues, it is our policy to not overturn judges’ decisions after the final results have been recorded.”

The absence of Chestnut — who had not lost at the Coney Island contest since 2015 — had left the race open. The top dog turned out to be Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, who scarfed down 58 dogs to capture the coveted Mustard Belt. “With Joey not here, I knew I had a shot,” he told ESPN. “I was able to unlock something that I don’t know where it came from.”

Wehry, a former bodybuilder, is married to fellow pro eater Miki Sudo, who took first place in women’s division of the Nathan’s competition this year, where she downed 51 dogs — effectively smoking the competition (the second-place winner consumed 37).

On the website the pair maintain, TheHungryCouple, they write that they first met at a gym one year before the Nathan’s contest. The website also says that in 2023, Wehry set a new world record at the Get Crackin’ Wonderful Pistachios Eating Championship by eating 188 in 8 minutes, and downed 173 chicken wings in 10 minutes to win that year’s Wings For Wishes Wing Eating Championship.

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