The hotdogs! The crowds! The anticipation of being in front of people on a hot summer day and competing for the title of the number one hot dog eater! Oh, the joys of pushing the envelope on cramming hot dogs. Though this may seem kind of funny, and some people might even scoff at the idea of competitive eating, the hot dog contest is quite serious. It’s not just about shoving dogs in your mouth and hoping you don’t puke; it’s a test of endurance and rigorous focus. That’s life for Joey Chestnut, who has made a career out of competitive eating and taking the simple pleasure of eating to the extreme.
Joey Chestnut is not your average happy-go-lucky, pumping and dumping, hot dog eating winner, though. If anything, he is renowned for his ability to eat anything competitively and holds several world records, which, yes, does include hot dogs. Chestnut trains every single day through the method of stomach stretching and fasting. He does this supplementation, milk and water in order to help him with retaining the food. Though it might sound scary, it’s a psychological and physical test that helps him come back year after year as the undefeated champion.
As told to the Boston Globe, Chestnut perceives competitive eating as not only about eating, rather “it’s about drive and dedication, and at the end of the day, hot dog eating challenges both my body and my mind”. He’s certainly not wrong — it is about reaching a goal and understanding that the real competition starts not on the day of the competition — but when you are by yourself, you need to have the discipline to train even when you don’t feel like it. It’s similar to running a marathon, with exercising weeks, even months ahead of time, so that when the time comes, the strength will be there because of the preparation behind it.
The endurance that Chestnut has had for this sport is amazing — not even the pandemic could stop him. This past summer he won his thirteenth title and set a new record for eating 75 hot dogs and hot dog buns in approximately 10 minutes. He has gone on the record stating that he will not stop until he reaches his goal of eating hot dogs until he reaches 70. Chestnut actually reached this goal a while back. Nevertheless, it’s his love for the sport that keeps him coming back, literally and metaphorically hungry for more.
Aside from competitive hot dog eating, he has taken his love of combining food and competitions to another level: from wings to sandwiches, pies to pizza, and everything else in between. His training isn’t one sided. Over the past several years, he has accumulated other awards and records. Every year since 2005 he has set a record of some sort pertaining to the sport.
Joey Chestnut is a man of strength who has proven year after year that it’s not necessarily about winning. In some cases he has won and stated his performances were disappointing; he’s also lost a few competitive eating contests. However, it’s about perseverance and seeing a new challenge after every contest is over.