The untold truth of Matt Stonie

Speed eating champion Matt Stonie shocked the world in 2015 when he out-ate eight-time champion Joey Chestnut at Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest. No one expected the unassuming 23-year-old to come away with the title, but he did, eating 62 hot dogs in just ten minutes. Since then, Stonie has turned his love for food into a full-time career and become one of the top-ranked competitive eaters in the world. How did Stonie go from a skinny college kid to a professional eater? His journey to success might surprise you. 

He works hard to stay in shape

When you eat 20 pounds of food in one go, it can take quite a toll on the body, so Stonie works hard to stay in shape. Weighing in at a svelte 120 pounds is no easy feat, especially when your job requires you to eat so many calories.  

Stonie told GQ that he makes sure to take care of himself so that, in spite of how much food he eats, he's still staying healthy. "It really just comes down to diet and watching what you're eating after a contest," he said. "But I'm definitely in the gym five times a week doing cardio or weights. I've made this my full-time job, and I spend a lot of time taking care of myself. It's hard, it's not like we have superhuman metabolisms."

He started competitive eating for free food

Stonie didn't exactly dream of becoming a competitive eater as a kid. He entered the sport as a broke college student looking for free food and the chance to win some prizes. "I started off eating big burgers and pizzas for a free meal and a t-shirt," he said in an interview with Tailgate Fan. 

In another interview, this one with First We Feast, Stonie admitted that competitive eating is a rather unusual career choice and not one he had ever imagined for himself. "It started with a lobster-roll-eating contest five minutes away from my house with $1,000 dollars on the line," he said. "I thought, 'Why not, just give it a shot.' I showed up and there was a guy who was expected to win and I beat him by half a lobster roll and took home $1,000 cash. I ate 24 lobster rolls in total… After that competition, I thought, 'Hey, it's not so bad.' I've always been a competitive guy and I got hooked on that competitive high."

He had a rough start

Breaking into the world of competitive eating is not easy. Stonie said that his first few years on the circuit were "miserable." His body had to adapt to consuming so much food. In those early years of learning just what his body could and could not handle, Stonie says that he was bloated and dehydrated. He's perfected his craft now, though, and can pack away 10,000 calories a day while prepping for a competition.

He's a serious musician

Stonie's talents don't end at consuming an insane amount of food. He is also passionate about music and has played the guitar for most of his life. He fielded questions from fans on Reddit, and said he truly enjoys performing for people. He added that once his competitive eating days are behind him, he would like to continue to amaze his fans as a professional musician.

He holds several world records

Not only has Stonie won several eating competitions, but he's also shattered many world records along the way. Some of the records he has broken are astonishing — and a little nauseating. The average person would become ill trying to accomplish some of these things, but Stonie isn't your average person. According to Pacific Citizen, Stonie's records include "consuming 25 McDonald's Big Macs in 22 minutes, 241 Hooters chicken wings in 10 minutes, 182 slices of bacon in five minutes, 22 pounds of Smoke's Poutinerie Poutines in 10 minutes and 71 Smithfield pork ribs in five minutes."

He studied nutrition in college

Stonie is currently on a hiatus from school as he is eating full-time, but before he took a break from his university studies he was majored in nutrition. It's an interesting course of study for someone who pushes their body to its limits, but Stonie says his nutrition courses helped him figure out how to be a competitive eater and stay healthy. As he pointed out, "There are no books written on competitive eating," so it took a lot of trial and error for him to figure out what worked best for him.

"What I've learned in my various classes has drastically helped my understanding of the human body," he told The Telegraph.

He doesn't have a favorite food

Being a competitive eater isn't for everybody, but it is a pretty good gig for those who love food. Stonie has said that he doesn't have a favorite food, telling The Red Bulletin "It depends on what contest I'm training for."

"When it's more enjoyable, you can eat more," said Stonie. "That's why a lot of pro eaters do a range of contests ー there are a lot of good sponsors out there with great contest food. Sometimes it's hard not to enjoy it when you're up on stage, but you've got to focus. If you enjoy the food, you'll slow down and lose."

Stonie might not have a favorite dish, but he does have a favorite Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor: Milk and cookies.

His grocery bills count as work expenses

Training for competitions results in hefty grocery bills, but Stonie actually gets to write off the food he buys as a work expense. While most people who tried to write off their groceries on their taxes would likely face an audit from the IRS, it's one of the perks of being a professional competitive eater.

It turns out Stonie is pretty savvy when it comes to money and is willing to work hard in order to earn it. When asked if there's a food that he wouldn't eat, he answered, "Everything has its price."

His family stands behind him

Stonie's family is very supportive of his career. In 2012, his father, Dorian Stonie, told The Mercury News, "that over time he and his wife have gotten just as into the Major League Eating world as their son, frequently rooting for him at his competitions."

Stonie has turned his career into a family business. His younger brother, Morgan, helps him with his popular YouTube channel acting as a cameraman. "My brother had been the biggest help," Stonie told The Next Web. "He's not just a cameraman who helps me, but he makes ridiculously funny and stupid comments that are just out there. He makes the videos entertaining."

He gives money to charity

Stonie gives back to the community, donating some of his earnings to charity. He told CNN he is "very lucky" to be able to eat professionally, but acknowledges that "hunger is a big issue in the United States and around the world." While some people might think eating for sport is wasteful, Stonie uses his platform to help the less fortunate.

"What we do on the stage is gluttony," Stonie said. "But whether I eat two hot dogs today or 60, it's not going to make a difference anywhere else. Major League Eating does a lot for charity. I've generated a few thousand dollars for charity from my YouTube videos."