WASHINGTON: A man died shortly after participating in a taco-eating contest at a minor league baseball game in the US state of California, authorities said.
The competition took place on Tuesday night at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California, during a game between the Fresno Grizzlies and Memphis Redbirds.
Dana Hutchings, 41, died shortly after arriving at a hospital, said Tony Botti, a spokesman of Fresno County Sheriff’s department. It was not clear how many tacos the man had eaten or whether he had won the contest.
According to a statement by a spokesperson for the Fresno Grizzlies, the team’s on-site medical staff and paramedics immediately attended to Hutchings after he collapsed.
An autopsy on Hutchings was expected to be done on Thursday to determine a cause of death, Botti said.
Matthew Boylan, who witnessed the taco eating contest in the stadium, told the Fresno Bee newspaper he quickly noticed Hutchings because “he was eating so fast compared to the other two (contestants”.
“It was like he’d never eaten before. He was just shoving the tacos down his mouth without chewing,” Boylan said.
He said Hutchings collapsed and hit his face on a table about seven minutes into the contest, then fell to the ground. The eating contest ended immediately.
Tuesday night’s competition came before Saturday’s World Taco Eating Championship, to be held at Fresno’s annual Taco Truck Throwdown. The team on Wednesday announced that it was canceling that contest.
“We are devastated to learn that the fan that received medical attention following an event at Tuesday evening’s game has passed away,” Fresno Grizzlies President Derek Franks said in a statement.
“The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Hutchings,” it said.