More than 150 spectators converged on the rain soaked C.A.R.E. Garden at the Corinth Depot on Saturday to witness the 6th Annual World Slugburger Eating Championship.
Heavy rains and lightning pushed the contest start time back about 30 minutes. When the skies cleared, 10 contestants including seven world ranked professional Major League Eaters chowed down on Corinth’s signature sandwich.
MLE emcee Sam Barclay hyped the wet crowd prior to the event, which was moved from the normal entertainment stage down to the garden. Barcla even allowed attendees to move closer than ever, less than two feet from the front of the eating table to witness the championship.
After the 10 minute competition, it was Chestnut who put away 35 slugburgers to capture the world title for the third consecutive year and $1,500 in cash.
He won last year by devouring 41 slugburgers, which are served traditionally on a hamburger bun with mustard, pickles and onion.
Although happy to win, Chestnut had hoped for a better result.
“I’ve been traveling so much lately – going to contest after contest, so I wasn’t able to prep like I have in the past,” said the San Jose, Calf., native. “Next year, I’ll definitely improve.”
Fifth ranked world eater Geoffery Esper finished second after downing 33 slugs.
“It was closer than I thought it should have been,” added Chestnut. “I thought I was moving faster than he was, but evidently I wasn’t.”
A Oxford, Mass., native, Esper walked away with $750.
Earlier this week both eaters participated in the MLE Hooters World Wing Eating Championship in Las Vegas. Esper devoured 250 wings in 10 minutes breaking the world record of 241 wings set by Chestnut in 2015.
Chestnut also won the annual Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest earlier this month in New York City by eating a after downing a record breaking 72 dogs.
Gideon Oji, ranked sixth in the world, finished third on Saturday with 22 slugburgers eaten. He’ll leave Corinth with $500. Fourth place went to MLE new comer Michael Whities who downed 16. He received $250 in winnings.
Fifth place was 24th ranked Matt Cohen who ate 13.5, while Matthew Raible finished sixth with 10 slugburgers put away. Seventh place went to William “Wild Bill” Myers who ate eight and a half.
Three local competitors entered the contest.
Jeff Stark respectfully finished eighth after eating six and three quarters, Josh Hudson finished ninth eating six and Taylor Coombs finished last eating a little more than three slugburgers.
Stark had hoped to eat 10 slugs this year, but came up short after he changed his eating habits a day before the contest.
“Last year I tried fasting and was only able to eat five, so I thought I would try a different method this year,” he said. “I have treated the last two days like normal days. Last night I even had hamburgers.”
The world record was set by Matt “Megatoad” Stonie in 2014 when he ate 43 slugburgers. Stonie did not return to Corinth this year.
Presented by Main Street Corinth, the eating contest has become the highlight of the annual Slugburger Festival which turned 30 this year.