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Competitive eating organization says it tries to prevent casualties

(File) (Tim Boyle, Getty Images)
(File) (Tim Boyle, Getty Images)
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Updated: 7/08 2:20 pm

CUSTER, S.D. (AP) — An organization that sanctions competitive eating events says safety is a top priority.

George Shea, of Major League Eating in New York, says organizers do all they can to prevent casualties during contests.

His group wasn't involved in last Thursday's hot dog eating contest in western South Dakota, where a contestant choked to death. The county sheriff tells the Rapid City Journal that 47-year-old Walter Eagle Tail "probably just suffocated." He says a hot dog must have lodged in his throatand paramedics couldn't get it out.

Friends describe Eagle Tail as a fun-loving, kind and caring man who was "just having a good time" when he took part in the contest.

Speed-eating competitions are popular over the Fourth of July weekend. Eight-time champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut managed to eat 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes at an annual contest in Coney Island, New York, on Friday — eight short of the record 69 he swallowed in the 2013 competition.


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