2016: Major League Eating's Year In Glory

1. Chestnut Regains Mustard Yellow Belt
Never doubt a champion. Joey Chestnut set a Coney Island record on the Fourth of July when he ate 70 Nathan’s Famous hot dog and buns to reclaim the Mustard Yellow Belt. This year’s win marked Chestnut’s ninth title, but this one might have mattered more than any other. It cast Chestnut’s forgettable 2015 into the trashcan of history and sealed the lid tight. And we all learned an important lesson with each and every bite he took as the Brooklyn sun kissed his cheeks: the past is behind you if you want it to be.

2. Chestnut Sets New Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Record
We are not done talking Chestnut and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, people. That is because the #1-ranked eater in the world set a new—and, as of this writing, current—world record in the discipline when he ate 73.5 Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes in Washington DC on June 25, 2016. Video footage of the event shows a man in complete control of his body, mind and surroundings. That this feat took place in our nation’s capital is no coincidence.

3. Sudo Defends Nathan’s Famous Title
Make it three in a row for the #1-ranked female eater in the world. Sudo ate 38.5 Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and buns for the Fourth of July win, fending off a robust challenge from Sonya Thomas, who ate 35 in 10 minutes. Both Sudo and Thomas each hold three Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest Ladies titles. We look forward to the resumption of hostilities in 2017.

4. Nathan’s Famous Turns 100
Nathan’s Famous was founded in 1916 by Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker, who borrowed $300 to open his hot dog stand at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island, Brooklyn. That Nathan’s flagship restaurant thrives today and stands as the epicenter of competitive eating culture each and every Fourth of July. This year’s event paid tribute to the 100th anniversary of Nathan’s Famous. Here is to 100 more delicious years ahead of us.

5. Cincotti Makes Himself Known
Carmen Cincotti has no respect for the reputations of his fellow contestants, no respect for the proud history of our great sport, no respect for the chain of command and no respect for the order of things. This is why Major League Eating Chairman George Shea dubbed him The Mutiny. It is an apt moniker. Cincotti’s 42 Nathan’s Famous hot dog and buns on the Fourth of July was the highest debut total since 2001. He earned his first title at the Siegi’s World Championship Bratwurst Eating Contest, where he ate 101 brats to Joey Chestnut’s 100. His path of destruction has only begun.

6. Oji Earns World’s Healthiest Eater Crown
When the history of Zaria, Nigeria is written, spare a chapter for that proud city's finest son, Gideon ‘The Truth’ Oji. Oji ate 25.5 16oz servings of kale salad for the win at Kale Yeah!—The World’s Healthiest Eating Championship Presented By Healthy Options in Buffalo, NY. The event was the world’s first sanctioned kale-eating World Championship and his win marked Oji's first non-qualifier title. He also earned the right to call himself the world’s healthiest competitive eater, even if such a title is completely subjective and frankly impossible to quantify. But roughage. Very important.

7. Stonie Bounces Back
I think we can all agree that Masaru Emoto put it best when he wrote in Secret Life of Water, “If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.” Matt Stonie did not have a good Fourth of July, losing the Mustard Yellow belt to Chestnut and losing by a margin of 17 Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and buns. Matt Stonie had an exceptional remainder of the year, setting records in Chicken Spiedies, White Hut Cheeseburgs and MoonPies. Matt Stonie returned to himself and returned himself to the top of the dais.

8. Wild Bill Myers Embraces Globalism
What can be said about Wild Bill Myers that hasn’t already been said? The man is a testament to the virtues of perseverance, dedication and lower gas prices. In 2016, Wild Bill went global, reveling in the nicknames Guy Sauvage in Francophone events and Guillermo Salvage in those with a Spanish-speaking orientation. Major League Eating looks forward to announcing Myers as Wildes Wilhelm at the 2017 Oktoberfest Zinzinnati World Bratwurst-Eating Championship.

9. Chestnut Dominates Chicken Wings
There is no greater chicken wing eater in the history of the world (or in the history of chickens) than Joey Chestnut. That he is dominant in this discipline—one that demands total application of delicate technique and supreme manual dexterity—as well as in capacity events is a credit to the man. Weightlifters don’t make great ballerinas as a rule; Chestnut applies his sledgehammer with the precision of a surgeon. In 2016 chicken wing events, Chestnut was unstoppable, claiming both the Hooters Worldwide Wing Eating Championship (194 Hooters wings in 10 minutes) and the U.S. National Buffalo Wing Eating Championship (with 188 wings in 12 minutes). We predict more bad news for chickens in 2017.

10. MLE Welcomes New Foods!
What a delicious world we live in. In 2016 Major League Eating introduced new events to our annual slate of sanctioned eating Championships and set World Records in a host of disciplines. These new benchmarks of excellence include Peeps (Matt Stonie, 200 Peeps in five minutes); Silver Dollar Pancakes (Matt Stonie, 113 in eight minutes); Kale Salad (Gideon Oji, 25.5 16oz servings in eight minutes); American Burger Company Roadstar Burgers (Joey Chestnut, four Roadstars in four minutes and 24 seconds); White Hut Cheeseburgs (Matt Stonie, 41 in 10 minutes); and New Mexico Green Chile Stew (Gideon Oji, 1.3125 Gallons in six minutes).