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12-time champion Joey Chestnut slams Peter King for criticism of competitive eating

Joey Chestnut once again dominated the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Thursday, downing 71 hot dogs and buns to win his 12th Mustard Belt at the annual Fourth of July event at Coney Island in New York.

The sport, while at times absurd and not always visually appealing, has truly turned into one of the best Independence Day traditions in the United States. Longtime Sports Illustrated columnist and current NBC Sports writer Peter King, however, made it clear he’s not a fan.

King took to social media after watching ESPN’s new 30 for 30 documentary on Chestnut’s rise through competitive eating and his battle with Takeru Kobayashi — who won six-straight Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contests from 2001-06, completely changing the sport — and called it “truly disgusting.”

“A shame that as at least a fifth of children in America go to bed hungry nightly [ESPN is] highlighting gluttony, treating someone who overeats excessively as a ‘competitive athlete,’” King tweeted after the film’s debut on Tuesday night. “Truly disgusting.”

Chestnut was asked about King’s tweet on Wednesday at the Empire State Building, and quickly made it clear he didn’t agree with the longtime sportswriter’s opinion.

“I’m an athlete. I think Peter King, he’s kind of narrow minded,” Chestnut said, via TMZ. “He’s picking low-hanging fruit. It’s easy to criticize something. He could easily criticize NASCAR for greenhouse gas emissions. It’s just kind of absurd.

“The amount of food we’re eating is very, very small. Actually most of the contests involve donations to food banks. He’s just kind of narrow-minded.”

Sure, the competitors ate a large amount of hot dogs on Thursday outside the original Nathan’s store at Coney Island. However, the competition only cooked up 1,700 total hot dogs and donated 100,000 hot dogs to New York-area food banks, according to So it’s not accurate to say that Nathan’s isn’t doing its part to help with the hunger crisis that King highlighted in its tweet.

Regardless, Chestnut didn’t let King’s words get to him. He still dominated the competition on Thursday, beating the rest of the field by 21 full hot dogs and buns. Without a doubt, he’s still the king of the competitive eating world.

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