Joey Chestnut, the world’s top-ranked competitive eater, did not disappoint the large crowd that assembled to watch him compete in the World Pumpkin Pie-Eating Championship at Elk Grove Regional Park on Oct. 2.
In the competition, which was a main feature of the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival, Chestnut beat his closest challenger, Carmen “The Mutiny” Cincotti.
In just eight minutes, Chestnut ate 19 pounds and 6 ounces of pie while Cincotti consumed 16 pounds, 11 ounces of pie.
Although Chestnut won the Elk Grove competition for the second consecutive year, he fell short of his other goal of breaking the world record for pumpkin pie eating. That record was set in Elk Grove in 2014, when Matt Stonie ate 20 pounds and 13 ounces of pumpkin pie in eight minutes.
For winning last weekend’s competition, Chestnut won $2,500, and Cincotti won $1,200.
Also receiving checks for placing in the top six of the 11 entrants in the competition were Miki Sudo (11 pounds, $650), Steve Hendry (eight pounds, $350), Pablo Martinez (six pounds, 10 ounces, $200) and Sergio Reyes (five pounds, seven ounces, $100).
Sudo is the world’s number one ranked female competitive eater and has won the past three, annual women’s competitions at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
After placing 10th in the competition, Doug Ecks admitted that he could have faired better.
“(Competitively eating pumpkin pie) can be overwhelming,” he said. “I was very excited about it, but maybe too excited where I bit off more than I could chew.”
The competition also included local participants, Dan Davis, head football coach at Laguna Creek High School, and Marty Tomlinson, junior varsity football coach at Franklin High School.
Winning bragging rights for Laguna Creek High was Davis, who consumed three pounds of pumpkin pie and earned $150 for that school.
The competition will return to Elk Grove next year.
Chestnut, who holds 41 competitive eating world records, said that he is already looking forward to competing at next year’s pumpkin pie-eating championship in Elk Grove.
“I was able to come out on top (this year),” he said. “I was short of the record, but it will give me a reason to come back and work harder next year.”
Cincotti said that he will make sure to give Chestnut all the competition he can handle in 2017.
“I’m going to go back home and go watch tapes and (plan) my strategy for next year,” he said. “All I’m saying is ‘Watch out, Joey. I’ll get 20 pounds next year.’ And he’s getting up there (in age at 35). I don’t know if his body can take it as much as he wants to believe. At the end of the day, he really put this sport on the map, but his days are numbered, definitely.”
Chestnut, who travels the world as a competitive eater, said that he hopes to participate in competitive eating competitions for a long time.
“As long as I’m healthy and happy, I’ll keep doing it. It’s a great job. I get to travel (and compete) on weekends. I meet happy people. I’m living a dream.”
Chestnut added that Elk Grove is home to one of his favorite festivals.
“There’s not too many cities with a free festival like this,” he said. “This is really unique. It’s such a great festival with tons of happy families. It’s really great.”
With a playful smile on her face, Mary Bowers, another one of the pie-eating competitors in last weekend’s event, estimated how much pumpkin Chestnut consumed last weekend.
“I’m amazed at the enormity of the size of the giant pumpkin that won (the pumpkin weigh-off at this year’s festival), because it’s like I can drive the thing home,” she said. “It’s like a Mack truck or a Cinderella coach, and I think that Joey has the same amount of pumpkin inside his stomach right now.”
Chestnut expressed his appreciation for the pie that was made by Elk Grove’s gourmet pastry and desserts company, Sinful Treats, which is owned by Mariel Black.
“I didn’t like pumpkin pie until I had this pumpkin pie,” he said. “It was really good. We’re really lucky to (eat this) pie. This tastes so good. It’s really easy to eat. It makes it a lot easier to eat more of it. Mariel’s a big sweetheart.”
Cincotti also praised Sinful Treat’s pumpkin pie.
“(This) pumpkin pie is absolutely delicious,” he said. “If you don’t like the food, you’re not going to be able to keep it down. But for me, I’m happy right now. I gave (Mariel) a hug. I said, ‘Thank you so much.’”
Black said that for the competition, her company made 65 pies, weighing a total of 130 pounds.
And she added that each pie, whether it is for a small or large order, is made with the same amount of care.
“We make them as if we were making them for family,” she said. “That’s the secret there. My grandma used to tell me, ‘If you’re mad, don’t cook.”