Joey Chestnut downs 63 hot dogs, wins Nathan's Famous contest for 15th time

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Competitive eating phenom Joey Chestnut captured his 15th title on Monday at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, an annual Independence Day tradition on Coney Island, N.Y.

The wiener warrior downed 63 hot dogs and buns before thousands of boisterous, sun-soaked July 4 revelers — many shamelessly sporting Nathan's Famous Styrofoam hot dog hats.

The hot dog total was well below the record 76 frankfurters that Chestnut, 38, of Indiana, ate last year. 

CONEY ISLAND HOT-DOG EATING CHAMP JOEY CHESTNUT WILL DEFEND HIS TITLE ON CRUTCHES

But it was enough to easily out-munch no. 2 eater Geoffrey Esper of Massachusetts, who downed 37.5 hot dogs and buns.

Joey Chestnut won the men's title at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2022.  

Joey Chestnut won the men's title at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2022.   (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

The victory was not without drama. Chestnut competed despite recently suffering a ruptured tendon in his right leg — and he was hobbling around on crutches before the competition. 

He was also interrupted by protesters about halfway through the 10-minute test of ingestion endurance. 

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They carried signs that said, "Expose Smithfield Deathstar."

One of the men pushed Chestnut aside in the heat of his Herculean digestion effort.

The champ responded by grabbing the man around the neck and helping to pull him to the ground. He quickly returned to eating as authorities ushered the protesters off the stage. 

A person holds a sign that reads "Tastes like Freedom" during Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2022.

A person holds a sign that reads "Tastes like Freedom" during Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2022. (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

"Joey was on a record pace. We should have witnessed history," charged first-time Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest attendee Frankie Capobianco of Boston, Mass. who otherwise reveled in what he called "the all-American spectacle" for the first time. 

"That guy totally messed with [Joey’s] momentum."

Contestants compete to see who can eat the most hot dogs during Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2022.

Contestants compete to see who can eat the most hot dogs during Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2022. (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

A man was arrested to the left of the competitors' platform as the heated contest continued despite the fracas.

"When the barren hills and the cracked earth and the once-proud oceans drain to sand, there will still be a monument to our existence," emcee and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest host George Shea said of the reigning champ. 

A crowd gathers to watch Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2022. 

A crowd gathers to watch Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2022.  (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

"This man represents all that is eternal in the human spirit."

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Miki Sudo won the women’s competition for the eighth time, eating 40 hot dogs and buns. 

Valerie Solimini and Frankie Capobianco, both of Boston, joined thousands of sun-soaked revelers during Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, N.Y., on July 4, 2022.

Valerie Solimini and Frankie Capobianco, both of Boston, joined thousands of sun-soaked revelers during Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, N.Y., on July 4, 2022. (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

The world's top-ranked female eater could not compete last year because she was pregnant with Max, whose father is the no. 3-ranked men's competitor Nick Wehry. 

She had won seven straight titles from 2014 to 2021.

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The Independence Day competition returned on Monday to its traditional location at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues for the first time since 2019. 

Kerry J. Byrne is a lifestyle reporter with Fox News Digital.

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