January 13, 2024

‘Cream Cheese Slows You Down’: Joey Chestnut Wins Bagel Contest

Las Vegas Review Journal

Joey Chestnut didn’t order extra cream cheese.

He got it anyway.

The world’s top-ranked competitive eater won the second Siegel’s Bagelmania World Eating Championships. Saturday’s spectacle drew about 500 spectators to the popular deli at 252 Convention Center Drive.

In his first appearance in the event, Chestnut downed 15 bagels in eight minutes. That was half a bagel better than second-place finisher and the event’s defending champ, Geoff Esper. Nick Wehry was third with 10.5 bagels consumed in the messy competition.

Chestnut’s said afterward he was happy with the victory and $5,000 first-place check. But he added, “There is room for improvement.”

Chestnut’s total was more than two bagels fewer than Esper’s 17.5 mark in 2022, when Chestnut was sidelined because a leg injury (from a fall on a hill, not related to competitive eating).

“I knew it was going to be hard on the jaws. I would have liked to have broken the record this year, but what I need is faster rhythm next year to get a higher number,” said Chestnut, his commemorative Bagelmania T-shirt stained with water and bagel residue. “They put a little extra cream cheese on. It tasted good. But cream cheese slows you down.”

Competitors were allowed to drink water and dunk the bagels into the cups. Wehry had what seemed to be an energy drink or cranberry juice. The contestants’ bagels were slathered with a measured amount of cream cheese.

“I’ll be better prepared next year, now that I’ve done it once,” Chestnut said. “This was an amazing event, with all the people who showed up.

Though Esper is the event’s defending champion and No. 2-ranked competitive eater, the crowd was firmly behind Chestnut.

“Sometimes I feel bad for the other competitors,” Chestnut said. “But it’s awesome to have the support.”

The crowd chanted Chestnut’s name as emcee Sam Barclay barked out the results, while Esper slipped away from the stage almost unnoticed. The No. 2 finisher arrived in Las Vegas at 11 p.m. Friday, rented a car to make it to the 11 a.m. start, and is outta here at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Chestnut was celebrated the day before the competition, hosting a meet-and-greet inside Bagelmania. On the day-of, the top-ranked eater visited the restaurant beforehand to meet company co-founders Steve and Judi Siegel, top exec and event organizer Michael Crandall, and Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Peter Guzman.

Saturday was dubbed World Bagel eating Championship Day in Clark County. Celebrate accordingly, with extra cream cheese.

Next up for Chestnut is Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin’ Eating Championship on the Santa Monica Pier on Feb. 26. Wehry upset Chestnut last year with 188 pistachios devoured in eight minutes.

Photos courtesy of Las Vegas Review Journal

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