The Surprising Reason Joey Chestnut Got Into Competitive Eating

You most likely know Joey Chestnut from continuously breaking record after record as the reigning champion of the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest held every year on the Fourth of July on Coney Island. In 2021, Chestnut ate 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to break his own record and win the contest for the 14th time. 

In addition to hot dogs, Chestnut also has held myriad other world eating records besides hot dog-eating, including apple pies (4.375 three-pound pies in 8 minutes), Philly cheesesteaks (23 6-inch sandwiches in 10 minutes), Twinkies (121 Twinkies in 6 minutes), and Buffalo chicken wings (7.61 pounds in 12 minutes).

Today, Joey Chestnut not only dominates the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest every year as well as other eating competitions, but also sells his own line of condiments, including "Classic Boardwalk Coney Sauce" and "Spicy Brown Firecracker Mustard," available on his website. But how did he get into this profession in the first place?

Battling brothers and making millions

Joey Chestnut has always been a big eater. Growing up with three brothers, he quickly learned to eat quickly. "I could eat more than pretty much all the other three brothers combined," Chestnut told Delish in July 2021. He went on to reveal  it was his little brother who recognized his talent and signed him up for his first competition when he was 21 years old. He said he wasn't sure about competing and didn't want to do it at first, but was sold on the event when the organizer offered him a free hotel room. 

Gluttonous as it sounds, competitive eating has paid off for Chestnut. He has made a career out of professional eating competitions with a current net worth of $1.5 million. And Chestnut has no intention of retiring soon. "As long as my body's cooperating, I can see myself doing it for years," he told Insider. "I love the competition, and it's still exciting. Even if I end up getting beat, it would be really hard to walk away."  

"I was made for this," he told Delish. Based on his track record, he's not wrong.