A Fresno man died shortly after competing in a taco eating contest Tuesday night during a Fresno Grizzlies Triple-A baseball game against the Memphis Redbirds.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office identified the man as 41-year-old Dana Hutchings.
“We are not ruling a cause of death yet, but we have an idea,” Tony Botti, a spokesman for the sheriff-coroner, said in a statement.
Botti also said that an autopsy on Hutchings will be done Thursday to determine a cause of death.
Grizzlies: ‘We Are Devastated’
“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 Wednesday.
“The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings. The safety and security of our fans is our highest priority. We will work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested.”
The club also said that it had canceled the World Taco Eating Championship scheduled for Saturday. However, Saturday’s ninth annual Taco Truck Throwdown will continue.
Rushed by Ambulance to Hospital
Hutchings was taken from Chukchansi Park by ambulance to Fresno Regional Medical Center, where he was dead on arrival.
Witnesses said that emergency medical technicians tended to Hutchings before paramedics arrived and tried to resuscitate him,
Tuesday’s competition was for amateur food eaters. During the 2018 World Taco Eating Championship at Chukchansi Park, professional eater Geoff Esper downed 73 tacos in eight minutes.
ABC30 reporter Corin Hoggard advanced the story Wednesday afternoon with details provided via Twitter.
Dana Hutchings was 41 and had experienced some health issues before this event.
He told another fan at the game last night that he was diabetic and had starved himself all day to prepare for the eating contest.@ABC30 pic.twitter.com/3IhxHfHc4X
— Corin Hoggard (@corinhoggard) August 14, 2019
Eating Contests Gain in Popularity
Competitive-eating contests have become major attractions at festivals, sports games, 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 boardwalk, where this year’s champion, Joey Chestnut, ate 71 wieners and buns.
Watch: Highlights of 2018 Taco Truck Throwdown
(Associated Press contributed to this story.)