After counting error at Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Major League Eating considering electronic counters

A day after Joey Chestnut broke the hot dog eating world record in the most unceremonious of ways, Major League Eating is considering switching to electronic technology to replace human counters, per ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

Joey Chestnut ate 64 hot dogs and buns… until he ate 74

Chestnut, who brought home his third straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest win on Wednesday, was initially scored with having eaten 64 hot dogs and buns on a scorching day on Coney Island. It was an impressive number — at that point, he had out-eaten second-place finisher Carmen Cincotti by 19 hot dogs and buns — but far off from his own world record of 73.5.

When interviewed shortly after his 11th victory in 12 years, Chestnut insisted he ate 74 hot dogs and that those keeping track of him egregiously miscounted. Seconds after Chestnut’s interview finished, ESPN2 switched over to cornhole, leaving everyone involved on the edge of their seats wondering whether Chestnut had indeed eaten 74, as he claimed, or 64, as the unofficial count said.

After a somewhat lengthy review, official scorers determined Chestnut had indeed broken the world record with 74 hot dogs and buns consumed in 10 minutes. Apparently the counters had missed a couple of plates’ worth of hot dogs, putting his number 10 higher than initially reported. It was a strange error to be that far off, but considering Chestnut was finishing 7.4 hot dogs per minute — that’s a hot dog and bun every 8.1 seconds — it was tough to keep up.

Even stranger, though, is that the error regarding Chestnut’s number wasn’t even close to what Cincotti endured. After review, he had eaten 64 hot dogs and buns, not 45. So while the nation was left watching cornhole, Chestnut broke a world record, and the contest turned out to be much closer than initially thought.

Major League Eating president: ‘We were embarrassed’

Speaking with Rovell on Thursday, Major League Eating president Rich Shea said, “yesterday’s incident might be the impetus to bring competitive eating into the digital age.”

“We were embarrassed,” said Shea, who was the color commentator on ESPN’s broadcast on Wednesday. “And while even NFL referees make mistakes at the highest level, we have to show an effort to change the old way. This isn’t your father’s hot dog eating contest. There’s a lot on the line.”

When Shea said that the contest had “a lot on the line,” he wasn’t exaggerating. Not only was a world record set, but the betting community was flipped on its head. With Chestnut going from 64 to 74, he hit the over on the betting line, flipping winners and losers in an instant. Offshore sportsbooks received over $1 million in bets for the contest, Rovell reported.

Shea admitted he’s not sure what counting changes would look like in the future.

“I doubt we can put the microchip on the tongue or in the esophagus,” Shea said. “Some sort of monitoring associated with the plate weight would be more practical.”

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NEW YORK, NY – JULY 04: Joey Chestnut won his third straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, but it wasn’t without drama. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 04: Joey Chestnut won his third straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, but it wasn’t without drama. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)