Nothing is more American than watching Joey Chestnut enter the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating contest on July 4 — but there’s more to the man behind the meat.
When did Joey Chestnut start eating competitively?
Chestnut first entered the eating contest scene in 2005 as a college student. He competed and wowed the crowd in a breakout performance at the Fried Asparagus Eating Championship where he downed 6.3 pounds of asparagus in 11 1/2 minutes, beating a professional eater. Rich LeFevre.
After the asparagus contest, Chestnut qualified for Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest that same year. In his Coney Island debut, the competitive eater ate 32 hot dogs and came in third place behind Sonya Thomas and longtime champion Takeru Kobayashi.
How many times has Joey Chestnut won Nathan’s famous hot dog eating contest?
Chestnut had two years under his belt before claiming victory in the annual contest. In 2007, Chestnut and Kobayashi faced off in a record hot dog eating battle. Kobayashi – who had won the game six years in a row – was only able to eat 63 francs while the San Jose State University alum downed 66 hot dogs to claim victory.
Since debuting in 2005, Chestnut has won the hot dog eating contest a total of 15 times and has eaten a range of 59 to 76 hot dogs in each session.
For the 2023 contest, the ESPN app will have a dedicated camera feed for Chestnut starting at 12:45 p.m. ET. (The entire competition will be streamed on the app and ESPN 2.)
Does Joey Chestnut have any other job besides eating professionally?
Before becoming a household name, Chestnut worked with a construction management company in Northern California. However, in 2010 he decided to quit his day job to focus on being a full-time professional eater. In a July 2023 interview with USA Today SportsChestnut opened up about the tough decision and revealed that he makes $500,000 a year and his net worth is over $4 million.
“My mother was worried,” he recalls. “I mean, it’s nice to have a job. You have health and retirement, all that. So I had to convince my mother that I still had a plan for all of this.
The grand prize for winning the Nathan’s contest is $10,000, and Chestnut earns extra money for his various endorsements.
Did Joey Chestnut lose Nathan’s famous hot dog eating contest?
After winning eight years in a row, Chestnut was dethroned in 2015 by Matt Stonie, which had made its competitive debut the previous year. In the match, Chestnut ate 60 hot dogs while Stonie consumed 62 to take the win in an upset victory.
Has Joey Chestnut participated in other competitions?
As a professional competition eater, Chestnut has also participated in – and holds world records – several other food challenges, including Chicken Wings, Funnel Cakes, Tamales, Twinkies, Tacos, Big Macs, chicken fingers and more.
Sign up for Us Weekly’s free daily newsletter and never miss the latest news or exclusive stories about your favorite celebrities, TV shows and more!
In 2018, Chestnut participated in season 30 of Fantastic race alongside fellow professional eaters, Tim Janus. The duo were the fourth team to be eliminated.