Joey Chestnut is an American competitive eater, best known for being the top-ranked eater in ‘Major League Eating.’ He was born and raised in California. His father abandoned the family when he was 2 years old. Following this, he was raised singlehandedly by his mother. He grew up with five other siblings. He once stated that he had a huge appetite as a kid and ate a lot. He attended the ‘San Jose State University’ and participated in his first eating competition when his younger brother insisted that he join a deep-fried asparagus eating contest. He performed well in the contest and began making a name for himself in the domain. He obtained a civil engineering degree and worked in the construction business for a while. He had his first brush with fame in 2007, when he won the 92nd ‘Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.’ Over the years, he won 11 more ‘Nathan’s’ contests. He holds several records in the game and has won several championship titles in ‘Major League Eating.’
Childhood & Early Life
Joey Chestnut was born Joseph Christian Chestnut, on November 25, 1983, in Fulton County, Kentucky, U.S., to middle-class parents. He was one of the six siblings in the family. His father had left the family when he was 2 years old. Thus, he and his siblings were raised singlehandedly by their mother. He eventually moved with his family to San Jose and joined a high school there.
He ate a lot as a kid. He liked his mother’s cooking and often gorged on the pasta she made. He was blessed with a good metabolism rate. Thus, he could eat a lot without getting fat.
He grew up in San Jose and joined the ‘San Jose University’ to pursue civil engineering. He aspired to work in the construction business. However, he soon found out about eating contests and realized his talent lay somewhere else.
While in college, he did not have enough money to eat whatever he liked. Thus, whenever he moved back to his house from college, he would eat a lot of the food that his mother cooked, which he absolutely loved. In 2005, his brother noticed this and asked Joey to participate in an eating contest, which turned out to be a life-altering moment for him.
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In 2005, Joey participated in the first eating contest of his life, while studying at the ‘San Jose University.’ It was a locally held deep-fried asparagus eating contest. During the competition, he emerged as a dark horse and defeated the ultimate favorite contestant, Rich LeFevre, by devouring 6.3 pounds of deep-fried asparagus in less than 12 minutes.
He liked the whole vibe around the eating contest. Soon, he gained enough confidence to join a famous hot-dog-eating championship that year, known as ‘Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest.’ He was placed third after he ate 32 hot dogs in the contest. In another eating competition that took place later that year, he ate 32.5 grilled cheese sandwiches within 10 minutes, to set a new world record. He participated in a few more eating contests and managed to gain more fame.
In 2006, he participated in ‘Nathan’s Contest’ again after he qualified to enter the tournament by eating 50 hot dogs with buns. Takeru Kobayashi was one of the leading players in the tournament and the reigning champion. It was speculated that Joey would beat Kobayashi easily. The competition was quite close. Joey led the tournament through most of it. However, in the final tally, he lost to Kobayashi, who ate a little more than 53 hot dogs, while Joey could manage to eat only 52.
Joey and Kobayashi then participated in the ‘Johnsonville World Bratwurst Eating Championship,’ which was held in Wisconsin. Kobayashi won this tournament, too, eating 58 bratwurst sausages in 10 minutes, while Joey ate only 41.
By 2007, Joey Joey Chestnut participated in many tournaments and had won the ‘Wing Bowl XV’ tournament held in Philadelphia. He had also set a record in the same tournament, eating 182 chicken wings in 30 minutes. The same year, he appeared in a ‘YouTube’ video that showed him drink one gallon of milk in just 41 seconds.
In 2007, Joey and Kobayashi were competing once again, in ‘Nathan’s Contest,’ which was held in Brooklyn, New York. Joey defeated Kobayashi in the contest by eating 66 hot dogs within the given time, which was three more than Kobayashi. It was also Kobayashi’s first defeat in the tournament in 6 years.
In October 2007, Joey Chestnut set a new personal and world record by eating 103 “Krystal Hamburgers” at the ‘World Hamburger Eating Championship’ held in Tennessee.
In 2008, he secured two wins, one of them in the ‘Wing Bowl XVI,’ where he ate 241 chicken wings in 30 minutes. He thus set a new world record by doing this. He made another world record after eating 78 matzo balls in the ‘World Matzoh Ball Eating Championship’ in Houston, Texas.
On June 21, 2008, he was pitted against Kobayashi again, in a pizza-eating contest, which was telecast on ‘Spike TV.’ Kobayashi won the contest. The same year, during ‘Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest,’ he ate 59 hot dog buns in 10 minutes and tied with Kobayashi.
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Again, in 2008, he won the 2nd ‘Annual Gyoza Eating Championship,’ held in Los Angeles, California. While scoring a victory in the contest by eating 231 gyoza, he also set a world record. The same year, he won the ‘Famous Famiglia World Pizza Eating Championship.’
In 2009, Joey Chestnut made one more world record, eating 10 and a half pounds of macaroni and cheese in 7 minutes. He also lost to Kobayashi in the ‘World Hamburger Eating Championship,’ where he ate 81 hamburgers. Kobayashi ate 93.
In 2010, he set a new world record by eating 380 shrimp wontons in 8 minutes. He then won the ‘Upper Crust Pizza Eating Championship’ by eating 37 slices in 10 minutes.
In July 2011, he consumed 62 hot dog buns, registering his fifth consecutive hot-dog-bun-eating championship at ‘Nathan’s.’ Kobayashi did not enter the competition, but he participated in an independent contest, where he ate 69 hot dog buns, thus indirectly defeating Joey and setting a new world record.
In 2012, Joey Chestnut won the ‘National Buffalo Wing Festival,’ held in Buffalo, New York, by eating 191 wings in 12 minutes. He further retained his ‘Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Championship’ by eating 68 hot dog buns in 10 minutes. The following year, he established a new record by eating 69 hot dog buns.
In 2013, he continued with his winning streak and ended up winning the ‘Hillshire Farm Bratwurst Eating World Championship’ and the ‘Hooters World Wing-Eating Championship.’
In July 2014, he won the ‘Nathan’s’ contest again, by eating 61 hot dogs. His winning streak was finally cut short in 2015, when he lost to Matt Stonie. In the next four ‘Nathan’s’ contests, however, he won repeatedly, thus retaining the title. Hence, he has won the tournament 12 times in total to date.
He also works as a civil engineer and a construction manager.
Joey Chestnut once stated that he trains himself by consuming enough milk, water, and protein supplements. According to him, his drive to participate in such tournaments comes from his will to challenge his body and mind.
Joey Chestnut dated Neslie Ricasa for a long time and proposed to her in 2014. However, the couple broke up in 2015, just before their scheduled wedding.