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Competitive eater Joey Chestnut set a world sausage-eating record at the Utah State Fair on Sunday afternoon, thanks to his perpetual motion technique, shoveling sausages into his mouth with his left hand, washing down bites with gulps of water from a cup in his right.
He downed 29 Utah-made Colosimo dogs to claim a $1,500 prize for 10 minutes of esophagus exertion.
Coming in a close second in the International Federation of Competitive Eaters contest was Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, a 190-pound, 21-year-old Chicagoan who downed 25 1/2 sausages, to beat the mark of 21 1/2 dogs consumed by Rich LeFevre, a 60-year-old, 132-pound, retired accountant and competitive eater from Henderson, Nev.
After Chestnut's triumph, sweat covering his cheeks, the 230-pound champ explained he has always been a big eater. And quick, too - just like you'd expect from the fifth kid in a family of six.
"After all, if you don't eat quickly, you won't get seconds," Chestnut laughed.
It was his younger brother who signed Chestnut up for his first contest. Now the 22-year-old civil engineering student at San Jose State University spends his weekends traveling the country on the eating circuit, racking up some $45,000 in prize money and setting world records.
"I train my body to accept a lot of food," he said, but noted it was difficult finding a rhythm, because of the spices in the sausage.
Of course, explained Michael Castellano, the smooth-talking master of ceremonies, the Utah event was the first sausage-eating competition on this year's circuit of state fair and casino contests, so Chestnut's mark might not stand for long.
Other highlights of Chestnut's competitive-eating career include downing 6.25 pounds of deep-fried asparagus stalks in a 10-minute competition in April, 47 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes in June, 8.4 pounds of pork ribs in 12 minutes in July, and 18.5 waffles in 10 minutes last week.
Next up? Facing off over pulled pork in Omaha.
Meats are a challenge for speed eaters, explained second-place finisher Bertoletti. The young eater earned style points and applause from the crowd of some 150 Utah fairgoers for dunking his dogs in ketchup, and "chipmunking" the sausages in his cheeks, chasing bites with chugs of pink lemonade instead of water.
"I just like the taste," he explained after the competition, traces of ketchup still clinging to his cheeks, an All-American contrast to his long Mohawk hairstyle.
Hopping up and down during the competition? An attempt to make air pockets in his stomach and more room for sausages, he explained, laughing, before identifying the punk beat of Chicago's Mexican Cheerleaders as his personal soundtrack for the competition.
Bertoletti, who is studying for a degree in culinary arts, says he eats healthy meals the rest of the week, then fasts for a day or so before competitions. He's a newcomer who has made his mark on the circuit this season in dessert consumption, downing 1.75 gallons of vanilla ice cream in eight minutes in May, and 7.9 pounds of strawberry rhubarb pie in eight minutes in July.
Seven amateur eaters joined the professionals, including Kali Bogue, 19, who labeled herself "seven months and one week pregnant," and fiancé Trent Pulsipher, 19, both of Salt Lake City.
The young couple were enjoying the afternoon, wandering through the food booths where the smell of funnel cakes and fry bread wafted through the air, when they were encouraged to sign up for the contest.
"I love sausages," said Bogue, who won a side bet by consuming 3 1/4 dogs, to Pulsipher's three.
The sausage competition followed a warm-up act, a 10-minute cheese sandwich-eating contest, which sparked drama when six of the nine amateur eaters pulled out, including Shannon Spriggs of Murray, who had jumped to an early lead and successfully worked the crowd by fist-waving while chewing before nausea set in.
Eaters are disqualified for vomiting, or as Castellano tastefully explained: "In short, Elvis must stay inside the building."
Spriggs referred to Chestnut's world record of 47 sandwiches, when she explained why she had to stop. "I had seven sandwiches down and 40 to go, and I knew I was a goner," she laughed, while gulping water off stage, on just another sunny afternoon at the fair.
Contact Ellen Fagg at email@example.com or 801-257-8621. Send comments about this story to livingeditor@sltrib .com.
Utah State Fair
The Utah State Fair continues today through Sept. 17 at the Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City. Hours are Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sundays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for youth and seniors, and free for children 5 and under. Parking is $5 at surrounding Fairpark lots.
Ongoing activities at the fair include live music, magic shows, midway rides and games, the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit for children and demonstrations of arts and crafts. For a complete day-by-day schedule, visit http://www.utahstatefair.com.
Most events are free with admission but some Grandstand events require free tickets available at the Grandstand ticket office beginning at noon the day of the show (limit 6 per person). Paid event tickets are available at Smith's Tix outlets at 1-800-888-TIXX or http://www.smithstix.com.
All Day: Patriot Day: All military and emergency services personnel with proper identification will be admitted free; 2 News Family Value Day: free gate admission for kids 12 and under, adults are $6. Also, two-for-one on All-You-Can-Ride carnival wristband.
6 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Judging, dairy goat official milk competition (Goat Barn)
9 a.m. Utah Team Penning Association competition (Arena)
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Working artist Ortho Fairbanks, sculptor (Fine Arts - Bonneville Building)
10 a.m. Never Forget - A tribute to Sept. 11, 2001 (South Plaza Stage)
11 a.m. Judging, dairy cattle (Showring)
3 p.m. Utah Dairy Council of Utah Ice Cream Festival, all you can eat for $3 (Specialty Tent)
4 to 9 p.m. Working artist, Brady Fairbanks, sculptor (Fine Arts - Bonneville Building)
4 to 8 p.m. Japanese art demonstration, University of Utah Japanese Exchange Students (Creative Arts - Conference Center)
6 p.m. Midnight Mirage, American belly dancing (South Plaza Stage)
7 p.m. Watch Utah's funniest kids, selected earlier at regional competitions around the state (Pioneer Building)
7:30 p.m. Judging, Marie Callender's Governor Huntsman's Favorite Pie Contest Cook-Off (Zion Building); Josh Gracin (Grandstand); Taylor Vaifanua - Pop & hip-hop (South Plaza Stage)
9 p.m. Endless Summer Band, classic rock (South Plaza Stage)