CONEY ISLAND — In sickness and in health, and in extremely full stomachs.
Reigning Nathan's International Hotdog Eating Contest champion Joey Chestnut popped the question to his girlfriend on stage at the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Competition in Coney Island on Independence Day — and then went on to celebrate his impending nupitals by besting the other competitors, gobbling 61 franks in 10 minutes.
Chestnut grabbed the microphone and dropped to one knee just minutes before the men's competition was set to start — asking girlfriend Neslie Ricasa for her hand in front of a table full of franks.
Ricasa, 26, of San Jose, California — who was also competing in this year's women's competition — clapped her hand to her mouth and said yes.
Unlike 225-pound, 6-foot-1 Chestnut, Ricasa didn't soar to victory, being bested by women's champ Miki Sudo, who chomped 34 hotdogs in 10 minutes. Sudo fell short of the 2013 record of 45 hotdogs, held by Sonya Thomas.
Third-place winner Tim "Eater X" Janus put away 44 hotdogs and said he was glad the competition he prepared for all year was finished.
"I'm relieved that it's over," said Janus, 37. " The dogs were slow today," he said, using a bit of insider lingo.
The 170-pound competitor said he didn't feel full but knew he would later.
"As the hours pass, you start to resent the dogs," he said.
Crowds watched the fast feast under raincoats and umbrellas.
Long Island resident Chris Baldi, 23, said he was thrilled to see the competitors despite the soggy weather.
"The atmosphere here is amazing, even with the rain," he said.