The sport of competitive eating never got much attention for decades. Then, incredibly, Joey Chestnut gave it life in the U.S. when he took the world championship and a hot dog eating record that defies the laws of the human stomach.
Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi
The eating machine from Japan was a whirlwind to competitive eating. His first year in Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, he doubled the standing record of twenty-five hotdogs with fifty. For six years no opponent could touch Takeru Kobayashi, also known as the "Tsunami". His training techniques and eating style crushed Guinness records and won him international fame. It wasn't until Chestnut, nicknamed "Jaws", made it his personal mission to prove the Japanese champ wasn't invincible. In a four-year span following Kobayashi's last hot dog championship in 2006, Chestnut has won the title and the world record with a gut-busting 68 hot dogs downed in ten minutes. It was a rivalry that put competitive eating on ESPN for the first time.
Unfortunately, recent disputes between Kobayashi and Major League Eating leave Chestnut as the undisputed champion. A year ago the Japanese champion had to sign a contract saying he would eat only in MLE events. He refused. The decision got him barred from the Nathan's competition and his deserving picture taken off the Wall of Fame. When Chestnut won his fourth championship last year, Kobayashi watched from the stands and was later arrested when he tried climbing on the stage. The Tsunami hasn't beaten Jaws for four years now, and given his mindset with Major League Eating, he won't reclaim his championship any time soon.
Joey Chestnut and the World Records
While he's most famous for hot dogs, the California native from Vallejo holds many other accolades in his impressive trophy case. He holds the world records for pork ribs (9.8 pounds in 12 minutes), steak (4.5 pounds in under 9 minutes), asparagus (9 pounds, 5.2 ounces), chicken wings (241), Krystal burgers (103), and matzoh balls (78 in 8 minutes). Jaws the shark couldn't gobble that much food. Joey makes it look easy. He proves every year that competitive eating means all forms of foods, not just hot dogs.
Joey Chestnut on Man vs. Food
If ever somebody wanted to see his eating ability up close, all the person needs is their TV remote. On the popular television show, Man vs. Food, aired on the Travel Channel, host Adam Richman was visiting San Jose in California to sample the local delicacies. His hunt found him at Iguana's, a Latino eatery featuring a menu item called Burritozilla. At seventeen inches long and five and a half pounds, it takes three fourteen inch tortillas, two-day marinated pork, fourteen ounces of beans, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole to make. Normally Adam would take on the challenge himself, but he took a back seat when San Jose resident Chestnut arrived. At the start of the clock, Jaws attacked Burritozilla from all angles. In three minutes and ten seconds, it was over. Nothing was left but the smile on Chestnut's face. It was a Man vs. Food moment for food-lovers to cherish.
Joey Chestnut and Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
Present day the world champ is back where it all began. Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is a one-day event every July 4th to celebrate Independence Day. It was a proud moment for Jaws when he brought the title back to America. Now he sits on that throne for the fifth-straight time, winning Nathan's famous Mustard belt with 62 hot dogs downed.
He's toppled a legend, set world records, and holds television fame. Chestnut is the master of world competitive eating.