TOWER— World champion competitive eater Joey Chestnut was upset by Geoffrey Esper, who outlasted a strong field Saturday to take home Fortune Bay Resort Casino’s World Indian Taco Eating Contest.
Esper, who is from Oxford, Mass., consumed 29 Native American Indian Tacos in the allotted 8-minute time frame before a packed house in The Woodlands Ballroom at Fortune Bay.
Chestnut, the number one ranked professional eater, finished a close second by eating 28 Indian Tacos.
“I gave it my best, but Geoffrey pulled out the win,” said Chestnut. “He did a great job. If I come back again next year, I’ll have to train even harder. It was a great event. We had a lot of support from the crowd — they were really into it and we thank them all for coming out to support this event.”
Taking home third place was Gideon Oji, who hails from Zaria, Nigeria. Fourth place went to Matthew Raible of Peoria, Ill., while there was a three way tie for 5th place between Mark Pederson of Little Canada, Minn., Sean Nichols of Niagara, Wis. and Fortune Bay’s own Doug Porter, who all ate nine Indian Tacos.
“What an exciting event,” said Sam Barclay of Major League Eating, who sanctioned the event. “It went right down to the wire and Geoffrey showed that he is a great competitive eater — 2017 has been the year of Geoffrey Esper!”
Barclay, who hails from New York, thanked the enthusiastic crowd for coming out to attend the event.
“The people were great and Fortune Bay Resort Casino did an awesome job,” said Barclay. “The events and promotions team, marketing, the kitchen and everyone else were great to work with. We hope to be back again next year.”
Fortune Bay Resort Casino Events and Promotions Manager Sammy Richter was equally thrilled with its first ever World Indian Taco Eating Contest.
“I never imagined it would be this big because of the weather,” said Richter, who organized the event. “I can’t wait for the return engagement —Joey is really looking forward to taking the title from Geoffrey Esper. Next year’s event will be even bigger and we’ll thrilled to be a part of it.”
The event was held in conjunction with Native American Heritage Month. Earlier in the day a Native American Indian Arts and Crafts show was held outside The Woodlands Ballroom. Poor road conditions hurt the traffic at the event, but nonetheless Richter was pleased with the way the day turned out.
“We were encouraged by all the support we received,” said Richter. “Hopefully the weather will cooperate better next year, but we’re still very pleased with how the events played out.”