The Only Food Joey Chestnut Refuses To Eat In A Competition - Exclusive

For someone who's broken multiple records for eating such a wide variety of items, it's surprising to learn that even Joey Chestnut has his limits. While Chestnut is most recognized for how quickly he can clean his plate of beef franks every year at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on the 4th of July, he has also clocked the fastest time for eating gyoza, pepperoni rolls, and shrimp wontons. However, just because the world-renown competitor will eat some types of seafood, doesn't mean he's a fan of all of it.

While promoting Pepsi's rollout of its new soda-inspired condiment Colachup, the Kentucky native told us in an exclusive interview that raw oysters are something he's never eaten competitively. "That's the only one that scares me because of the flavor, the saltiness, and the texture, " he revealed. "I've never been sick during a contest, and that one I think, 'Oh, it might push me over the edge.' It is a weird thing. I'm scared of it, but I also want to conquer this fear a little bit."

How he gets ready for a competition

Chestnut explained that he typically trains for about six to eight weeks for each food contest. However, he often has to do it while on the road because of traveling so much for all the events where he competes. "It's changed over the years a lot," Chestnut said. "For most contests, I have to put in a little bit of practice and try to build a tolerance for the food and a technique."

The expert eater also divulged that doing a cleanse and yoga has become an invaluable part of his routine. "Before every practice, before every contest, I do a cleanse," he said. "I have about two days of no real solid food. There's some calories, but I'm stretching, I'm doing yoga, I'm making sure I'm loose and empty for the contest."

As for why Chestnut continues to push himself and compete despite breaking as many records as he has? "It's the best deal in the world," he admitted. "You get to eat and meet happy people and win." We can't argue with that.

The origins of Joey Chestnut

Wolfing down hot dogs dozens at a time now comes naturally to Joey Chestnut, but his inspiration began on a much smaller scale. In a house full of growing kids, he was one of a handful of hungry mouths to feed. This paved the way for Joey to turn a childhood ritual into international fame.

"It's absolutely true," he says when asked about the story of his brothers getting him into competitive eating. "I grew up in a family with four boys. We were all big eaters, but me and my little brother would compete against the older brother, and eating was the only thing we could beat them at. I was definitely doing more eating than my little brother and everybody. My older brother would make fun of me, and my little brother was impressed that I could eat.

It started as something to entertain his siblings, but as time went by, Chestnut's brother had a thought: What if there was more to this than just impressing family members? Could this turn into something more? Chestnut explains, "Eventually, when I was 21 — it was when [Takeru] Kobayashi was dominating competitive eating — my little brother was like, 'Joey, you can do this."'

16 Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs Eating Contest victories later, his brother may need to consider scouting more talent in the future. 

A dream crossover

Joey Chestnut is synonymous with eating contests, but when it comes to competition and food, there's another name at the top of the list: Gordon Ramsay. Chestnut has appeared on several different programs, including "The Amazing Race" and "Man v. Food," but when we proposed the idea of popping up on another show, the "Hell's Kitchen" and "Master Chef" host immediately came to mind.

"I did something with 'Hell's Kitchen,' and I met Gordon Ramsay," he tells us. "He's a sweetheart. Whatever he is working on, I want to do it, because he knows food. He is amazing, and he'll set me straight if I have a weird food thought. I'm sure he wouldn't let me get away with it. Anything with him would be fun."

Gordon Ramsay already has a massive block of TV under his umbrella, and we'll be the first to suggest a new one where Joey Chestnut tastes everything from the competitors — as long as it doesn't involve oysters.