Luxe Life Blog
Photos: Joey Chestnut repeats as meatball champion, falls short of record
Major League Eating champion Joey Chestnut failed in his bid to shatter last year’s record 50 meatballs in 10 minutes at yesterday’s Second Annual Martorano’s Masters Meatball Eating Contest at The Rio, and he blamed it on being distracted by Holly Madison and his own failure in disregarding his disciplines the night before. Peepshow’s platinum blond bombshell attended the eating challenge, which featured Joey and 14 other contestants, including Henderson resident Rich “The Locust” LeFevre, who came out of retirement to take part.
“I was so nervous,” Joey told me after the officially sanctioned contest held at Steve Martorano’s Italian eatery in The Rio. “I still won, but 43 was 10 short of what I wanted to achieve. I even had hoped for 55. But I went out for a couple of drinks Saturday night, and I didn’t drink the water goal I’d set myself. I still won, though, for the second straight year, so that was good, but I did nowhere near what I wanted. The outcome was a win -- the result was the same, but I was disappointed with myself.
“I just couldn’t get into the rhythm of it. I saw Holly there. She’s beautiful. I couldn’t believe I was sitting so close to her. I lost my concentration. I was thinking more about her than the meatballs. I’m the only one to blame, but she really distracted me, and my mind was elsewhere.”
A year-old online report of the first contest last year caused confusion about this year’s results and was picked up and reprinted as breaking news elsewhere as if it was this year’s victory. Joey did win at the second annual tournament, adding a consecutive victory to last year’s debut. Last year’s event featured Fantasy star Angelica Bridges, and this year featured Holly.
On Saturday, Vegas DeLuxe posted a story about Joey and his extraordinary pre-eating schedule before tackling a major eating championship. It has worked previously, and he’s won world titles for eating the most numbers of hot dogs and burritos, among other food items. He’s the four-time winner of the July 4 Coney Island Nathan’s Hot Dog world title.
“I set myself a target to drink 26 pounds of water on Saturday to loosen my muscles, but I fell short,” he told me right after the win, for which he was awarded $1,500 and a gold Martorano engraved initialed necklace. “Not only that, but instead of sticking to water, I went out for a couple of drinks. That really affected me.
“Add in the Holly factor, and I got so nervous thinking I’d lose to somebody else that I didn’t come close to the number I’d wanted. I honestly thought I’d set another world record I was that confident, but I’ll be back next year, and then I’ll go see Holly in her show first instead of her coming to see me.”
The competition brought out some of the best eaters in the world. Rich, a veteran eater who holds world records in Spam, chili and huevos rancheros, finished second with 37 meatballs and won $750. Weighing only 105 pounds and the only woman in the competition, “The Lovely” Juliet Lee, ranked 10th in the world, finished third with 35 meatballs and took home $500. Coming in fourth place and taking home $250 was Erik “The Red” Denmark, who ate 33 1/2 meatballs. Erik finished only a half meatball ahead of fellow eaters Ron Koch and Kevin Ross.
To fully honor and respect Martorano’s gourmet meatballs, Major League Eating strayed from conventional competition standards and issued a utensils-only rule. The stipulation proved integral, as it put an added premium on technique throughout the contest.
“Now that Joey has won twice, I consider him a part of my family,” Steve Martorano said. “My meatballs are made with a lot of love and a lot of flavor, and it’s great that the eaters are able to enjoy them during the competition.”
“Joey once again showed us why he’s the best eater in the world,” said Mike Antolini of Major League Eating. “It’s clear that when Joey is presented with Martorano’s world-class meatballs, he’s awfully tough to beat.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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