Brooklyn, New York
The world's oldest speedeater, Milton "Three Fingers" Cohen, 103, was found dead at his dining room table late Saturday night, according to Brooklyn police.
Born September 14, 1900, Cohen was the son of Polish merchants who moved to Germany when he was three, and where he lived until 1945. "Miltie" was always a hungry child, but it was until the beginning of World War Two and his interment in German concentration camps that he discovered his gift of speedeating. "You had to almost kill for every morsel of food you got in those places." he told Sixty Minutes interviewer, Mike Wallace in a 1974 segment of that show.
Cohen eventually moved to New York City where he won the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hotdog Eating Contest 16 times, 1954-1970.
A hunting accident in his youth had cost him two fingers on his right hand, but after his second hotdog title in 1956, he told Washington Post reporter, Earl Friedman, that in his fervor of practicing hotdogs he had inadvertently ate two of his fingers, and from that time on was known as "Three Fingers" Cohen.
"The eating community has certainly sustained a great loss." responded George Shea, Commissioner of International Federation of Competitive Eaters, when informed of Cohen's death. "He was the Takeru Kobayashi of his generation... or should I say, generations?"
Cohen was married 66 years to the late Mitzi Shoenfeld, and had two daughters, the late Laverne and Shirley. He will be sadly missed by his only surviving relative, nephew, and former New York Matzo Ball eating champion, Don "Moses" Lerman. There will be no calling hours.