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I put the protester in a headlock so I wouldn’t drop hot dogs

Joey Chestnut put a headlock on the animal rights activist who stormed the stage during Nathan’s hot dog eating contest because he didn’t want to let the Franks fall into his hands, he told the Post Tuesday.

In an interview the day after he inhaled 63 hot dogs at the annual Fourth of July contest in Coney Island, the winner recalled feeling “confused” when he saw the “crazy kid” in a Darth Vader mask discovered.

“I was just confused. I didn’t know what was going on. At first I thought someone had fallen for me. He moved more in front of me. It just happened very quickly,” said 38-year-old Chestnut, who celebrated his 15th win on Monday.

The ambitious eater explained his decision to manhandle the 21-year-old protester, who raised a sign that read “Expose Smithfield’s Deathstar,” in what was allegedly a protest from Nathan’s pork supplier.

“When he stood in front of me…I didn’t know if he was going to attack me. There was a bit of panic and so I grabbed him and I wasn’t sure – I didn’t know how it was all going to play out,” he told The Post.

“I kind of grabbed him, then he fell and I was able to eat again, and I was really relieved it didn’t take that long,” Chestnut said. “The whole incident didn’t last that long. I think it was about four seconds total.”

Nathan's July 4th Hot Dog Contest Joey Chestnut protester
Chestnut wrapped the protester in a headlock after he made it onto the stage.
Paul Martinka
Nathan's July 4th Hot Dog Contest Joey Chestnut protester
Chestnut wrapped the protester in a headlock after he made it onto the stage.
Paul Martinka
Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Contest protester
Chestnut described the protester, a 21-year-old, as a “crazy kid”.
Paul Martinka

When asked why he put the intruder in a headlock instead of using a softer tactic like a jab, Chestnut simply replied, “If I had pushed him, I would have gotten my hands on the hot dogs.”

“I had limited use of my hands. I’m pretty sure I had something [in both hands]either a bun or a hot dog,” he continued.

The 6-foot-1, more than 235-pound pro flamer soon realized the disruptor posed no threat to him.

“When he ran into me and I saw him, I freaked out for a second, but as soon as I grabbed him I realized he was very small, and the way he fell to the ground I was like, ‘Oh, that’s it he pretty much a kid,’” Chestnut said. “There was an initial shock. It turned out that everything was fine. He wasn’t really a threat. It was just a crazy kid.”

The elite eater – who showed up on crutches for his official weigh-in on Friday and competed in a medical boot on Monday – said he didn’t enjoy putting the protester in a headlock.

“I felt a little bad,” he said. “It was just an unfortunate situation.”

The lightning-fast maneuver had never been practiced in a formal setting. The self-proclaimed “band nerd” never competitively fought in high school, nor did he practice martial arts, he told the Post.

“Just three brothers,” Chestnut quipped. “We all wrestled as kids.”

When asked if he thought the protester would stop eating dogs, Chestnut replied, “For a split second.”

“I didn’t know what he was doing,” he continued. “After he got out of the way, I thought about my rhythm and if I could get to dinner quickly, and I could. It didn’t affect me too much. I was able to keep going.”

The perennial chomping champion and native of California said he enjoyed the 2022 competition despite the bizarre disruption.

“It was a great day, it was great eating at Coney Island again,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to next year.”

https://nypost.com/2022/07/05/joey-chestnut-i-put-protester-in-headlock-so-i-didnt-drop-hot-dogs/ I put the protester in a headlock so I wouldn’t drop hot dogs

JACLYN DIAZ

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