Joey Chestnut racked up his 15th victory in the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Monday, but only after he put an animal-rights protester in a headlock and slammed the interloper to the ground.
Chestnut, who competed with one foot in a medical boot due to an injury, was briefly shoved off balance as the protester attempted to position himself in front of the news cameras covering the contest, The New York Post reported. Thanks to Chestnut's aggressive response, however, the protester was quickly removed from the stage and led away in handcuffs. The gobbling resumed almost immediately.
Chestnut went on to win the competition by consuming 63 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Runner-up Geoffrey Esper finished just 43 dogs.
BREAKING! DxE protestors dressed as Darth Vader & Storm Troopers disrupt #NathansHotDogEatingContest likening Nathan’s supplier Smithfield Foods’ “Deathstar” Factory Farm to the deadly Star Wars weapon. Press Release: https://t.co/4XQWB195mK #RightToRescue #SmithfieldsDeathstar pic.twitter.com/rsAJO0SNc0
— Direct Action Everywhere (@DxEverywhere) July 4, 2022
The protester wore a Darth Vader mask and carried a sign that read "Expose Smithfield's Deathstar." The animal rights activist group Direct Action Everywhere, which claimed responsibility for the disruption, said in a press release that the sign was meant to compare "the villainous megaweapon from the Star Wars film series to the largest factory pig farm in the country," namely Smithfield's Circle Four Farms in Milford, Utah.
Circle Four Farms slaughters around one million pigs per year, according to The Intercept. The population of the planet Alderaan at the time of its destruction by the Death Star was approximately two billion.