HOT DOG!

Ken Hoffman's inside scoop on hot dog king Joey Chestnut's controversial Nathan's Famous world record

Ken Hoffman's inside scoop on hot dog king Joey Chestnut's controversial Nathan's Famous world record
Joey Chestnut was ready to break his previous world record. Photo by Ken Hoffman

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Competitive eating legends Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo repeated as gentlemen's and ladies' champions in a Nathan's Famous July 4th Hot Dog Eating contest filled with controversy, accusations of incompetent judging, hot and saucy weather, and a disqualification for the books. 

Chestnut's official count was 74 hot dogs and buns, a new world's record, while Sudo gorged on 37, which is four off the number she ate last year. It was Chestnut's 11th title, Sudo's fifth.  

That's what the record books will show. The men's contest ended with judges showing that Chestnut consumed only 64 hot dogs, while a fast recount came up with 74 hot dogs. 

The 74 total was certified as official by a local district attorney, so credit Chestnut with a new record, besting the 73.5 hot dogs he inhaled at a Nathan's qualifying contest two years ago. 

The inside story
Since I was one of two judges in charge of counting Chestnut's hot dogs, here's the story behind the story:

This was my 11th year as a judge in Coney Island and my third year counting Chestnut's hot dogs. In previous years, judges stood in front of contestants, practically eyeball-to-eyeball. We could see every morsel the contestants ate. 

This year, judges stood on a platform well below the contestants. When the contest began, Chestnut was partially hidden behind a mountain of 30 hot dogs, stacked high on paper plates, five to a plate. 

Each contestant had two judges in front of him, one to count the hot dogs, the other to flip a scorecard so ESPN could keep a running total for viewers. I was the flipper for Chestnut. My job was to show my scorecard to the ESPN reporter behind me, then turn and show the scorecard to emcee George Shea and the young woman holding a scorecard for the 35,000 fans crowding the corner of Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island. Plus, an ESPN camera person was elbowing me trying to get closeups of Chestnut. So I was pretty busy. 

Fact: Judges didn't have a good view of the contestants in action. Poor planning to lower the judges' platform. How can you judge (count) what you can't see?

64 or 74?
When the final whistle blew, my scorecard read 64 hot dogs. Immediately, Chestnut protested, claiming he ate 74. He showed 14 paper plates, demonstrating that he ate 70, plus a remaining plate with only one dog, meaning 74 total. 

Read more at CultureMap.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Coogs beat the Sooners, 87-85. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images.

Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.

Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.

“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”

Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”

L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.

Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.

Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.

“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”

Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.

Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.

The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.

“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”

Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.

Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.

UP NEXT:

Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome