Man Dies In Eating Contest: Walter Eagle Tail Chokes To Death During Contest

A man died in an eating contest over the Fourth of July holiday. Walter Eagle Tail, 47, was in the midst of a hot dog eating contest in Custer, South Dakota when the competition took a tragic turn.

According to the Rapid City Journal, Walter Eagle Tail was one of six contestants participating in the contest held Thursday at Way Park. The man choked on one of the hot dogs, and people at the scene immediately jumped in to try to help. Paramedics arrived quickly, but Eagle Tail died after being transported to a nearby hospital.

Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler says that someone was doing CPR on Eagle Tail when the paramedics arrived, but they were unable to save him. Wheeler added, “Basically, he probably just suffocated. It got lodged in his throat and they couldn’t get it out.” It seems it all transpired quite quickly, over a matter of minutes, and those at the contest were stunned by what happened.

The Fourth of July festivities were sponsored by the Custer Chamber of Commerce, and the pie eating contest slated for Friday was canceled. At this point it has not been determined whether changes will be made for future similar events hosted by the group. While eating contests such as these have become something of a sport nationwide, this one was not organized by Major League Eating, the group that oversees many of these types of events. It seems this was just a casual local event intended to provide a bit of fun for area residents.


As the Associated Press via ABC News shares, eating contests such as these are popular across the country, particularly over the Fourth of July holiday. Eating champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut won yet another competition Friday in a Coney Island, New York event. He ate 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes in this outing, though he set a record in 2013 with 69 hot dogs consumed.

Friends describe Eagle Tail as a caring, kind and fun-loving man. He wasn’t one who made a career out of eating contests, like some. Rather, he entered just to have a bit of fun. While this type of outcome is certainly unusual, Walter Eagle Tail’s passing during a contest like this is not the first. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, an Australian man died during a pie eating contest last year. Funeral arrangements for the man who died in the eating contest in Custer are said to be pending.

[Image via NESN]