Chestnut used what emcee “Diamond Dave” Keating called a “shimmy shank” technique to move the food down his gullet, much the way a snake swallows an animal whole.
“The passion is raw but the ribs are cooked,” Keating shouted as Chestnut went head-to-head with 2009 champion Pat “Deep Dish” Bertolleti, who downed 6.6 pounds of rib meat to take second place.
Chestnut holds the world record in rib competitions, which he secured in 2008 at the Nugget cook-off, when he ate 9.8 pounds of meat. He also is the No. 1 ranked competitive eater in the world.
The Nugget Rib Eating World Championship is officially sanctioned by Major League Eating and the International Federation of Competitive Eating.
“Major League Eating is the world body that oversees all professional eating contests,” the organization’s website, www.ifoce.com, states. “The organization, which developed competitive eating and includes the sport's governing body, the International Federation of Competitive Eating, helps sponsors to develop, publicize and execute world-class eating events in all variety of food disciplines.”
Keating said competitive eating is the fastest-growing sport in the world.
“The era of the eater has begun,” he said at the onset of Wednesday’s face-stuffing festivities. “This is the Madison Square Garden of gurgitation.”
The rules for the rib eating competition are simple: Competitors have 12 minutes to eat as much rib meat as possible, and they can bring their own beverages. The ribs are weighed before and after the contest to determine the exact amount of meat each competitor ingests.
Chestnut won $2,500 for his chewing and swallowing abilities, and Bertoletti took home a cool $1,000.
Third place and $750 went to a rookie, 19-year-old Matt Stonie, who consumed 6.35 pounds of meat. Fourth place and $500 was awarded to Erik “The Red” Denmark of Seattle, Wash., who ate 5.25 pounds of ribs. Fifth place and $250 went to Las Vegan Ron Koch.
Koch, who declined to give his age, but said he is “ancient,” devoured 3.85 pounds of rib meat.
“I gotta show these young rookies that an old guy can still eat,” Koch said prior to the competition.
Larry Koepke of Sparks tried his hand at the rib competition and said it was his first ever try at such a contest.
Koepke was unable to keep up with the professionals, but gave it a good try, finishing one tray of ribs and starting on a second by the time the 12-minute competition ended.
“It was absolutely harder than I thought it would be,” Koepke said. “I didn’t think I would have such a hard time.”