Hot Dog Eating Champ Joey Chestnut: 'My Body Is Just Pretty Much at Its Limit'

4:59 PM PST 07/05/2013 by Erik Hayden
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Joey "Jaws" Chestnut

The competitive eater -- who devoured a record 69 hotdogs in 10 minutes -- tells THR about his recovery after the July 4 event.

Joey Chestnut has just eaten some yogurt. A day after winning Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, the man nicknamed "Jaws" stopped by Katz's Deli with his girlfriend, but ate little. 

“I was feeling rough this morning, but as time passes I feel better and better and my body’s getting back to normal," he told The Hollywood Reporter by phone on Friday. "I was craving a yogurt because I had so much acid in my stomach." 

The 29-year-old claimed his seventh straight victory in the contest by devouring 69 hotdogs in 10 minutes, earning a $10,000 prize. The event was televised on ESPN and has become a July Fourth staple. After the day is over, it usually takes Chestnut about 24 to 48 hours to fully recover from one of the binge eating contests. 

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"It depends on the contest. Hotdogs it takes a day and a half, two days. If it’s chicken wings or ribs, I’ll be feeling fine the next day because I’m not eating that much food," he said. "The chicken wings and ribs, I’ll eat seven, eight pounds, maybe, of meat and it’s pretty easy to digest that."

Chestnut, formerly a construction manager, enters roughly 20 events a year all over the world. He was given the nickname "Jaws" in 2005 by fellow competitive eater Sonya Thomas, who won in the women's field this year in the Nathan's contest. 

"I’ve slowly made my body adapt and understand what’s going to happen," Chestnut said about the repetition of his training sessions, which sees him fast for three days and drink gallons of water before binging in a practice contest. "If somebody else tried to do that for the first time, fast for three days and eat a crazy amount of food, it’d probably, I don’t know, make them sick beyond belief."

Other than Kimchi and Jalapeño poppers, he enjoys devouring most foods at eating contests. With his latest hotdog-eating binge, which broke the record at the Nathan's contest, he feels like he may have reached a threshold.

"I think my body is just pretty much at its limit," he explains about trying to eat any more than 70 hotdogs in 10 minutes. "It’s just the hotdogs either have to be cooked perfectly and the buns are perfect and the weather is perfect ... right now the limit’s right around 69 or 70."

Chestnut, who previously counted Pepto Bismol as one of his sponsors, thinks he has a few more years left to eat professionally in these contests, perhaps until he's 35.

"As long as I’m healthy and happy and as long as my doctors are telling me that I’m not hurting my body, you can count me in," he figured. Next up is the Hooters Wing-Eating World Championship in Florida on July 26.  

Twenty-four hours after his victory, his appetite is returning. "Actually I'm feeling better right now," he replied toward the end of the conversation with THR. "I think I'm kind of craving ramen."

E-mail: Erik.Hayden@THR.com
Twitter: @Erik_Hayden 

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