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My personal hero: Joey Chestnut


Art by Anabella Caudillo

Abraham Lincoln, Superman, Joey Chestnut. What do these names have in common? All great American heroes. As a red-blooded patriot, my favorite firework-themed holiday is obviously the 4th of July. On this day we recall heroes of the past, patriots who fought everyday for a better tomorrow. Let me tell you, something magical happens every 7/4, the Nathan’s Hotdog Eating competition. Many will recall a time they had to write a half-assed essay on who their hero is. Many chose their parents or the firemen or Jesus, well I raise you this: Jaws.


Now when I say Jaws, I’m not talking shark, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut is the undisputed king of munching down. A California native; Chestnut first broke into the business at age 21, when his brother signed him up for a lobster eating contest. Brother Nut noticed that Joey had a habit of cleaning his plate every meal. After he took home the lobster win, the rest is history. He was shocked that he was being paid to eat, and despite it never being his dream job, he was following where destiny took him. He’s said that it was a hard change to get used to, going from being a civil engineer to the hotdog gig-economy was scary. However, it’s easy to see that Joey made the right choice.

His rise to stardom is unmatched by any other sports professional. His records are nearly unbeatable (unless it's by his own doing) and his salary just keeps going up! However, it hasn’t been all ketchup and mustard, JC (and I’m not talking Penney) is constantly bombarded with obesity stats in America. To the haters and naysayers, Chestnuts counters that there’s nothing pretty about hotdog eating and it’s his personal choice to gobble these dogs, he says: “When you narrow it down, how many real pleasures are there in life? … There’s eating, there’s laughing, there’s making love and there’s the accomplishment of achievement and feeling proud. Maybe in America there’s more of an emphasis on food than they should be. But, when I look out at the audience during a competition, some people are shocked, but most people are smiling.”


Joey Chestnut has assured the public that his body was made for gulping dogs at lightning speed, and the results don’t lie. Big man Joe is not worried about the average health side effects of competitive eating, BECAUSE HE’S NOT AVERAGE! Jaw arthritis and internal bleeding? Absolutley not. Now I ask you this: “Is Joey Chestnut a champion, an American hero of sorts and an undisputed national treasure?” Absolutely. And the Major League Eating website would agree.

Image via MLE (Major League Eating)

Now let’s talk logistics… chestnuts weigh in at about 5 grams, but Joey Chestnut is clocking in at about 230 pounds, not bad for a 6’1 fella. Joseph says that he is constantly working his stomach in preparation for the next competition. He is said to survive purely on hotdogs, lemon water, and protein supplements, a very strict diet to maintain his rockin’ bod. However, if he’s coming off a “light competition”, such as 5 pounds of chicken meat, “Oh yeah, you know [he’s] going to be eating”!


Joey’s career has not been without struggle. He has been in some turkey beef with fellow competitor Kobayashi for years. He’s been crushing it and it seems like some people just don’t like to see it. Although he’ll deny it Chestnut has stated that when he’s competing he likes to look out into the crowd, he says that he’s no stranger to seeing many familiar faces at his various events. Seems like Jaws’ groupies just can’t get enough. Who can blame them? When talking about love Chestnut stated that “women like winners” and as a woman myself, I can’t help but agree!

Screenshot via FOX19

Love hasn’t come easy to Mr. Nut though, he’s struggled with love. After breaking it off with his fiance weeks before the wedding, he told the New York post: “Competitive eating is something I can control. I know I can control and if I push hard, I can win.” A really beautiful statement. I know you’d be hard pressed to find me crafting such a line in the heat of the moment. In fact, I’d be holding back my famous line: “glub glub, get me another doggy”!


I can sit here and make jokes all day, but admittedly, what Joey Chestnut does is geneuinley impressive. A bit silly, but admittedly impressive. In fact, I’m not even sure if this article is a joke. I’ve never had a clear vision on who my “hero” is, who’s to say it couldn’t be Mr. Jaws. Say what you will, but major sports networks like ESPN would call Joey Chestnut an athlete. He works hard and trains constantly. People love him and feel inspired by his dedication. And I think I am too. Thank you for all you do Mr. Nut, thank you from the world.