Joey Chestnut Eats 61 Hot Dogs to Win 2014 Nathan's Hot Dog Eati - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Joey Chestnut Eats 61 Hot Dogs to Win 2014 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

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John Minchillo/Associated Press John Minchillo/Associated Press

 (Bleacher Report) -- The great Joey Chestnut has once again defended his title, winning the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest for the eighth time in his career. Although he was short of his own record of 69 hot dogs, his 61 was enough to narrowly win the 2014 title.

Brad Evans of Yahoo gave some commentary on the win:

Unlike past years, there was a serious challenge at the main event from Matt Stonie. As Sports Illustrated pointed out, the two were neck and neck in the closing minutes:

Stonie finished with 56 hot dogs, but Chestnut was able to pull away down the stretch to earn the dramatic win. Kevin McGuire of NBC Sports provided the winner's thoughts after the competition:

For those thinking about joining this contest in the future, ESPN's Darren Rovell dispensed a few notes about what Chestnut just consumed:

This should stop almost anyone from considering following in this path. As Rovell noted before the day, though, Chestnut was a heavy favorite after plenty of past success.

The 30-year-old has been setting the standard at this popular contest for almost a decade. He came onto the scene in 2007 when he defeated previous champion Takeru Kobayashi, the six-time champion who has since left Major League Eating due to contract disputes.

Interestingly, Chestnut told TMZ before the event that he wanted to see his former rival once again, saying, "I miss competing against him. He's a great competitor."

Despite this, it seems like Stonie can be a quality rival in the coming years. He has beaten Chestnut in other competitions; he just needs to find a way to come through in the most popular eating competition in the world.

Based on the narrow loss, it is clear that the young challenger will only need a small improvement to take over the champion.

Meanwhile, the title was not the only thing that made this a good day for Chestnut. Before the start of the contest, the competitor proposed to girlfriend Neslie Ricasa on stage, and she accepted:

Adding this to another championship, this was quite a Fourth of July for Chestnut and everyone involved.

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