11:45 AM PT --Joey Chestnut easily won the hot dog-eating contest (again) for the 16th time, and while his performance this year was solid ... it still wasn't as good as years past.
JC ate 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes, which secured him the victory and the belt. Like we said, he's eaten more before -- but it's impressive, nonetheless. Congrats, bud!
Chestnut and the rest of the hot dog-eating machines WILL gorge themselves this year after all on a Fourth of July tradition, -- despite Mother Nature trying to torpedo their plans.
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest was almost canceled Tuesday at Coney Island ... all on account of a massive thunderstorm that rolled through, which dumped a ton of rain and lightning onto the area -- and sent patrons running for cover.
Here is a video of people standing on table tops on Coney Island to escape the torrential rain and gathering pools of water that have totally derailed the Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest pic.twitter.com/8TEbC8DLYz
Footage taken by journos on the ground shows swarms of people looking to get out of the rain any way they can ... and some got creative, standing on outdoor tables under umbrellas.
It got so bad that the NYPD actually pulled the plug on the rest of the competition -- the men's race, specifically -- out of an abundance of caution. But Nathan's organizers waited it out a bit and decided to proceed once the storm cleared -- which it eventually did.
Joey Chestnut ran out to show love to the fans while the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Contest was in a lighting delay 🤝 pic.twitter.com/bxpJAk4yeC
It's unclear when exactly the contest will get underway, but the legend himself is waiting in the wings and clearly ready. JC was seen walking around mingling with onlookers who stuck around -- and he was hyping himself up as they chanted his name.
Indeed, the guy's back to defend his title ... last year he ate 63 hot dogs and won, but that wasn't anywhere near his record set the previous year at 76 franks -- which he hoped to topple in 2023.
The glizzy champ wants another bite at the apple, er, wiener. At this point, it's looking like he'll get his chance -- and seeing how he's the odds-on favorite to win ... people will be counting the dogs he downs as the true marker of victory.