If you are what you eat, Joey Chestnut is a mix of pork and beef in dozens of eatable casings.
He is to competitive eating what Elvis Presley was to rock and roll, the Bambino of the ballpark frank. You can’t beat him, you can only hope to have a digestive track as efficient.
The Fourth of July in Coney Island, New York means only one thing – Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. It is exactly what it sounds like, men and women gathered to see who can devour more hot dogs and buns in 10 bodacious minutes of buffet.
And on Thursday, a perfect day for mustard and relish along The Boardwalk, Chestnut won his 12th championship by consuming 71 franks and buns. Amazingly, he has done better. Last year, he wolfed down his personal record of 74.
“I was going for 75, I always love to get a new record,” Chestnut told ESPN afterwards. “I came out fast and then I slowed down faster than I would’ve liked. I feel like I should have eaten a couple more.”
How great is Chestnut? His closest competitor among the field of 17 chewers was Darron Breeden of Virginia. He consumed 50. Only 50?
In case you are wondering, Chestnut gets to hold onto his mustard-yellow championship belt – provided he can still wrap it around his waist.
This contest is not limited to me. Miki Sudo won her sixth women’s title, consuming 31 in the same 10-minute timeframe.
Sudo defeated second-place winner Michelle Lesco by 4 1/2 dogs for the Pepto Bismol-pink belt. But like Chestnut, she had also done better. Her career-high is 41 dogs.
Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas holds the women’s record of 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
Chestnut and Sudo both won $10,000 for their championships.
Chestnut, 35, is currently starring in “The Good, The Bad, The Hungry,” an ESPN documentary about the relationship between Chestnut and his longtime rival Takeru Kobayashi.
“I never thought I could eat 60. But then Kobayashi ate 54 so I knew I had to top him,” Chestnut told the Washington Post. “Right now if you asked me if I could eat 85, I’d say no. And I probably couldn’t. But if someone ate 84 tomorrow, I bet I could do it.”
In case you are wondering, there is such a thing as Major League Eating. But Kobaysashi opted out of it over a contract disagreement, so he wasn’t in New York to burp it out with the Maris to his Mantle.
“It was all the same stuff he didn’t have a problem with when he was winning,” Chestnut said. “And now he has a problem with it?”
If you think you are interested in a career in competitive eating, Chestnut will tell you the best way to train is by initially starving yourself before expanding the stomach with milk, water and protein supplements.
And when it comes to eating hot dogs, the key is soaking the buns in water to make them as pliable as they can be. It makes them gross, but easier to slide down your throat when you are in a hurry.
Chestnut came into prominence by winning his first title 2007 (66 dogs in 12 minutes). The time was lowered to 10 in 2008. That when he first TKO’d Kobayashi, the six-time defending champ.
After last year’s title, we mentioned some of his other eating accomplishments. It bears repeating because it’s just so remarkable.
Chestnut ate 47 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes in 2006.
Chestnut pounded 15 pounds of shrimp cocktail in 8 minutes in 2016.
Chestnut defeated 141 hard-boiled eggs, pre-shelled, in 8 minutes in 2013.
Chestnut devoured 12.8 pounds of deep-fried asparagus in 10 minutes in 2014.
Chestnut picked the meat from 13.76 pounds of ribs in 12 minutes in 2013.
Chestnut wolfed down 4 ½ pounds of steak, plus sides, in 8:52 in 2008.
Chestnut slurped 78 matzoh balls in 8 minutes in 2008.
Chestnut slipped 79 bratwursts down the hatch in 10 minutes in 2013.
Chestnut overpowered 32 quarter-pound pork roll sandwiches in 10 minutes in 2015.
And finally, Chestnut swallowed 81 4oz mutton sandwiches in 10 minutes in 2018.