BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Competitive eating’s greatest competitor of all time fell short in his quest to undo a four-year losing streak in the U.S. Chicken Wing Eating Championship, placing a distant second to James Webb in the event held at Highmark Stadium as part of the National Buffalo Wing Festival.
Chestnut, who is No. 1 in the Major League Eating rankings, put in a solid shift, finishing 240 chicken wings in 12 minutes. That figure would have been enough to take first place at last year’s event — which was won by women’s No. 1 and overall No. 3 eater Miki Sudo with 233 — but was no match for world No. 5 Webb, who stomped to victory housing a whopping 276 wings.
Sudo, a fan favorite who received loud cheers from the Orchard Park crowd throughout the event, gave Chestnut a close run with a third place finish of 231 wings.
Major League Eating’s George Shea — whom viewers of the July 4 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest may recognize as the skimmer hat-wearing announcer with an enthusiastic, pro-wrestling-esque cadence — summed up the differing strategies of the top two contestants.
“Joey [Chestnut] went fast and sloppy,” Shea bellowed from the stage. “James [Webb] went very, very clean and slow.”
Webb’s rout is made more impressive by his weekend itinerary: Unlike competitors like Chestnut, who arrived in Buffalo ahead of the weekend and participated in events Saturday, the Australian jet-setted in just before Sunday from Minnesota, where he edged a previous chicken wing champion, No. 2 Geoffrey Esper, at a “Sloppers” eating competition held at the state’s fair Saturday evening. Esper also made the voyage to Buffalo but placed outside the top four.
Before the wing eating contest, restaurants from across the globe competed Sunday for awards honoring the best wings in multiple different categories. You can see which restaurants took home prizes — including a wing joint hailing all the way from Iceland — by clicking here.
Chestnut joined News 4 in studio on Friday to preview this weekend’s slate of competitions at the National Buffalo Wing Festival. You can watch that full interview in the video player below.
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.