Man Dies in Eating Contest: Walter Eagle Tail Chokes on Hot Dog

(Photo: Reuters/Allison Joyce)Joey Chestnut (C) competes in the 2011 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York July 4, 2011.

A man died in an eating contest over the Fourth of July weekend, according to reports. Walter Eagle Tail, a 47-year-old man, was doing his best in a hot dog eating competition in Custer, South Dakota Thursday when he choked on his food and began to suffocate.

The man who died in the eating contest decided to enter the six-person competition at Way Park in Custer, South Dakota just to have fun, a friend said.

"Walter was just being Walter, having fun when he entered this contest," Ardis McRae told the Associated Press. "He was just having a good time."

Unfortunately, things turned sour during the contest when Eagle Tail began to choke on his hot dogs. Those nearby attempted to assist him while paramedics were called.

"There was someone doing CPR when we arrived," Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler told the Rapid City Journal. "He probably just suffocated. It got lodged in his throat and they (paramedics) couldn't get it out."

"It all happened within minutes," he added.

Eagle Tail died at the hospital shortly afterwards.

Funeral arrangements are currently being made for Eagle Tail, who friends have described as kind and fun-loving. Custer's Chamber of Commerce, who sponsored the hot dog eating contest, canceled a pie-eating contest which was to take place the next day, July 4.

Major League Eating, which sponsors many eating events but did not participate in this one, spoke out about the importance they place on safety during their eating competitions.

"We always make sure it's in a controlled environment," said chairman George Shea. "We organize the entire thing around safety. (Just as) if it's football or hockey or auto racing, we approach it as a top priority."