The Fourth of July celebrates two American passions -- our independence and hot dogs. Between the morning beach outing and the evening fireworks, two of America's finest cities held hot dog eating contests -- Brooklyn and Coconut Grove.
While the Coney Island contest gets nationally televised attention, the Coconut Grove competition, now in its fifth year, proved just as exciting to the hundreds of people who came out to watch five fierce competitors use their wits and their jaws in an age old battle between man and dog.
With ten minutes on the clock, the rules to both competitions were basically the same...eat as many dogs as you can and a "reversal of fortune" is an automatic DQ.
CocoWalk's center plaza was filled with people who lined the steps, balconies, and walkways as the five competitors took the stage. Rick McClead; Liam Burt; Mauro Gargiaulo; and Stephen Jayne were all confident they could beat returning champion Juan Angel. The Kendall resident won last year's contest by eating 10 dogs.
All competitors looked in top form at the beginning, with Juan Angel taking a fast lead by eating two weiners at a time.
As the crowd shouted encouragement at the two minute mark, the distinct styles of each eater was apparent. Mauro Gargiaulo was shaking his body, a technique used to help gravity pull the dogs down, while Juan Angel continued to use his two-dog method. Rick McLead was very methodical, continuing a steady pace, while Liam Burt focused on the task at hand. Stephen Jayne smiled for the crowd as he clearly enjoyed his dog-eating experience.
At the end, a new winner was declared. Liam Burt of Deerfield Beach won by eating 11 hot dogs, beating out Juan Angel who repeated his 2012 performance by consuming 10 hot dogs.
After the competition, Burt told Short Order that he felt "full but good." The eater from Deerfield Beach, has competed in -- and won -- several eating contests in the past said this one was particularly challenging. "The hot dogs were bigger than I expected them to be", he said. So, is it on to Coney Island for the dog-eating champion of Miami? "Those guys are crazy. I don't think I can eat that many."
By the way, Joey Chestnut broke a world record at Nathan's hot dog eating contest in Coney Island. The champion eater consumed 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win the mustard belt for a remarkable seventh time.
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Here's the final minute of the competition: