Man dies after competing in California taco-eating contest

FRESNO, Calif. — A man died shortly after competing in a taco-eating contest at a minor league baseball game in California, authorities said Wednesday.

Dana Hutchings, 41, of Fresno, died Tuesday night shortly after arriving at a hospital, Fresno sheriff spokesman Tony Botti said.

An autopsy on Hutchings will be done Thursday to determine a cause of death, Botti said. It was not immediately known how many tacos the man had eaten or whether he had won the contest.

Tuesday night’s competition allowed amateurs to qualify for Saturday’s World Taco Eating Championship to be held at Fresno’s annual Taco Truck Throwdown, KFSN-TV reported.

Fresno Grizzlies spokesman Paul Braverman said in a statement the eating contest was not connected to Saturday’s competition and added “out of respect for the grieving family, we are declining on-camera requests at this time.”

Neither Braverman nor Fresno Grizzlies president Derek Franks immediately respond to messages.

The team did not reference the incident on any of its social media platforms Wednesday, but an ad for Saturday’s taco-eating competition remained on its Facebook page.

During the 2018 Taco Eating Championship in Fresno, professional eater Geoffrey Esper downed 73 tacos in eight minutes, the television station reported.

Competitive-eating contests have become major attractions at festivals and other events.

Among the most popular is the annual Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest on New York’s Coney Island, where Joey Chestnut this year’s champion ate 71. Esper finished third.

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