Joey Chestnut Regrets Protester’s Viral Pullout During Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest – NBC10 Philadelphia
Joey Chestnut won his record 15th mustard belt at the 2022 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Monday.
But he has one regret from his last performance in the league.
In a interview with USA TODAY Sports’ Josh PeterThe world’s top-ranked competitive eater said he “felt bad” about his viral elimination of a protester who rushed to the stage during the contest at the original Nathan’s Famous restaurant on Coney Island in Brooklyn.
“As soon as I grabbed the guy I realized he was a kid,” said Chestnut, 38. “I felt bad afterwards. I was just amplified, just focused on getting back to eating.
“It’s just a pity. I wish that didn’t happen. It’s shit.”
As Chestnut gulped down his 18th hot dog, three protesters from animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere ran onto the stage wearing “Star Wars” masks and holding signs that read “Expose Smithfield’s Deathstar.” Activists were protesting Smithfield Foodswho is Nathan’s pork supplier.
One of the protesters, wearing a Darth Vader mask, pushed Chestnut out of position and flashed the sign to the crowd. Chestnut, who arrived at the event on crutches due to a ruptured tendon in his leg, responded by putting this protester in a chokehold and bringing him to the ground. Chestnut then immediately resumed eating as protesters were cleared away by security.
The masked Darth Vader activist was Scott Gilbertson, a 21-year-old from Berkeley, California. USA TODAY Sports also spoke to Gilbertson, who felt the takedown was “unnecessary” and was surprised to find Chestnut was the one delivering it.
“I felt like it was unnecessary for sure,” Gilbertson said. “I had the mask on so I couldn’t see who it was. I assumed it was a security guard. And then when I saw the video, it was Joey. I was surprised.”
Chestnut admitted the altercation looked “excessive”, but added that the mask Gilbertson was wearing played a part in his reaction.
“I was a little freaked out because he was wearing the mask,” Chestnut said. “I saw the mask and I think that’s when I realized it didn’t belong here.”
“That seems excessive,” he added. “But in my position, I don’t know, I’ve been waiting for the contest for a long time and I want [Gilbertson] had just stood next to me and I would never have touched him. If he hadn’t nudged me and moved in front of me, it wouldn’t have been a problem. But I also wish they hadn’t been on stage.”
Gilbertson, who has been charged with criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct and harassment according to the New York Police Department, said he can understand why Chestnut would overreact in this situation, while continuing to believe that c was excessive.
“I really have nothing against Joey as a person,” Gilbertson said. “I was just trying to get my message and that of my organization across. I wasn’t trying to push him. I had the mask on and my peripheral vision was hampered.
“I was trying to get in front of him. I couldn’t see how close I was to him and I kind of nudged him. So I can understand I guess why he maybe overreacted, but I think the extent to which he overreacted was unnecessary.
The other two protesters — Robert Yamada, 42, of Phoenix, and Joshua Marxen, 31, of Santa Clara, Calif. — have been charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct, according to the NYPD.
Chestnut said he might have eaten three more hot dogs had it not been for the incident. Either way, he still won comfortably downing 63 hot dogs and buns, 15.5 more than second-placed Geoffrey Esper.
The greatest hot dog eater of all time defends his title at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, winning his 15th championship.