Chestnut goes for 14th title in Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest


Defending champ ready for the big Coney Island chowdown

Like any sport, competitive eating requires training.

For hot dog eating champ Joey Chestnut, it’s about practice and recovery. For two days he eats as much salad and greens as he can, then he fasts for two days, consuming only lots of liquid. He also does plenty of cardio workouts. Then he keeps repeating the cycle until he’s stretched out and ready for a real competition.

Probably his biggest of the year comes Sunday, July 4, when he goes for his 14th title and sixth in succession in the 2021 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, airing on ESPN from Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Chestnut has won this contest every year since 2007, save for 2015 when he was upset by Matt Stonie. Last year, the Northern California native came out of the gate on fire, averaging 10 hots dogs and buns (HDBs) per minute at the outset before moderating his pace. In his sights was his previous record of 74 HDBs that he set in 2018. And that came right down to the final seconds, when he consumed his 75th to take his 13th title.

Chestnut calls the Nathan’s contest his hardest of the year as it is a test of not only internal capacity but jaw strength. He says other competitions like ice cream sandwiches, chicken wings and corned beef sandwiches do not push him the way this one does. And when this one is over, he’ll be back to eating salads and fasting and getting ready for his next competition.

Such is the life of a competitive eater.

Player Profile

Joey Chestnut

Full Name: Joseph Christian Chestnut

Birth date: Nov. 25, 1983

Birthplace: Fulton Co., Ken. (raised in Vallejo, Calif.)

Residence: San Jose, Calif.

Height/weight: 6 feet/230 pounds

Education: Has a degree in engineering and construction management from San Jose State University

Honors and achievements: Holds or has held competitive eating titles in asparagus, burritos, chicken wings, donuts, fish tacos, funnel cakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, gumbo, gyoza, gyros, hamburgers, hot dogs, jalapeno poppers, mutton sandwiches, pierogi, pulled pork, poutine, shrimp cocktail, tacos, tamales, turkey (whole), Twinkies, apple pie and brain tacos, among others

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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