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Are the Refs Ruining the Game?

Most believe that the considerable meatball debris left on the floor under the plates of Joey Chestnut and Sonya Thomas at the controversial Carmines contest was inadvertent. However, the quantity of meatball left on and around the table is what caused the results to be placed into the judges’ hands.

Those who were on stage and in the crowd report that contest host George Shea repeatedly urged the eaters to clean up their area, placing all of the scattered meatball debris back onto their plate before taking it to the scale. However, both Chestnut and Thomas went to the scale leaving mounds of debris on the floor and on the table.

Contest officials were forced to scoop up the meatball and bring it to Thomas and Chestnut in line at the scale. Even so, not all of the food could be returned to the plates. As a result, a one-ounce deduction (considered a modest penalty by those who saw the quantity of abandoned debris) was imposed on Thomas and Chestnut.

Those participating in the event said that all contestants were given ample opportunity to get a clean count, and many said it would have been much less fair to take a victory away from Shoudt because he cleaned up his area while Thomas did not.

Meanwhile, a full meatball, showing signs of handling, was found under Rich LeFevre’s place at the table. This caused some, who remember a recent watermelon scandal, to speculate as to motivation.