Roasting Chestnut: Illness prevents wing champion’s return
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • September 02, 2013 @ 10:08am
Defending champion and chicken wing-eating record holder Joey Chestnut opted not to compete in yesterday’s National Buffalo Wing Eating Contest, bowing out because he was sick, the @WingFest Twitter account passed along.
@metalpeter Joey is sick. :(— Wing Fest (@WingFest) September 1, 2013
While confused glances and murmurs were shared as the 4 p.m. eating contest start came and went—and Joey Chestnut was nowhere to be seen after competing against Sonya Thomas in a different contest 24 hours before—logic pointed to another rough Saturday night on the town. (Update: Thanks to a tipster, we’ve got a shot of Chestnut grinning from ear-to-ear at the Liberty Hound on Saturday evening via the restaurant’s Facebook page).
Joey Chestnut is late. Where else could he be right now?— Marc Deschamps (@Marcdachamp) September 1, 2013
After all, as festival founder Drew Cerza lightheartedly recollected in the media presentation 10 days before Wing Fest, Chestnut showed up late to Coca-Cola Field in 2012—five minutes after the competition was supposed to start, actually—looking the worse for wear, and, to no one’s surprise, rumors swirled that Chestnut had reveled hard in the nightlife—4 a.m. closing time can be rough, we know.
All was forgiven when the world-record holder for hot dog consumption still annihilated the competition, housing 191 wings (7.61 pounds) in 12 minutes to shatter another record.
Chestnut’s absence Sunday appears innocent—even though he no-showed and didn’t communicate with Wing Fest until well after the competition (7:03 p.m., see tweet below). I’m awaiting confirmation on this from Wing Fest or Cerza on this point, however.
A sore throat and fever kept me from competing today. Sorry for not communicating my illness earlier. Congrats to the winners. @WingFest— Joey Chestnut (@joeyjaws) September 1, 2013
The illness excuse is fair—Chestnut could probably compete through a fever in true Michael Jordan style, but managing a sore throat in an eating competition is pure misery. Crispy wing skins grinding against your already-raw esophagus doesn’t sound worth title defense, does it?
Was the “no call, no show” a little sketchy? Of course. Is it not common courtesy to call, text or email an excuse to the organizers who’ve been touting your appearance in perhaps the second-most lauded eating contest other than Coney Island? Chestnut’s absence probably was legitimately due to illness, but if the major delay in communication is accurate—judging by @WingFest’s tweets below, it looks that way—it’s surely disappointing.
@metalpeter We did not know until recently— Wing Fest (@WingFest) September 2, 2013
Last year Joey Chestnut ate 191 chicken wings in 12 minutes. That’s 7.61 POUNDS of wings. #wingfest13— Wing Fest (@WingFest) September 1, 2013
Regardless of the healthy wing options, the creative 2-v.-2 ice hockey tournament and the new mechanical wing ride, there’s little question that the gluttony of the eating competition is the festival highlight for many. To take a positive spin, Chestnut’s illness provided an opportunity for rising star Miki Sudo to pile up accomplishments as she surges up the competitive-eating rankings.
Humorously, Winging It! Buffalo Style conducted a phone interview with Sudo from the airport—just before she returned to her home in Las Vegas—and the first-time champion jokingly referred to Chestnut as a “diva” before admitting disappointment that was unable to compete against the world-record holder. Watch the clip here. (Updated at 9:45 p.m. Monday).
Going to see my boy Joey Chestnut do work at this Buffalo wing eating competition— Ben Warner (@BenCWarner85) September 1, 2013
Wing fest to watch Joey Chestnut— Buffalo Polak (@GregNawojski) September 1, 2013
Hitting the gym this morning in preparation for the national Buffalo wing festival. Can Joey Chestnut retain his title?— Judy Wilfrom (@judyjocra) September 1, 2013
(Header photo courtesy of Erica Morano from the 2012 event that Chestnut won— full gallery here).