When it comes to Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, words such as “champion” and “driven” come to mind. The 30-year-old California native has one passion: eating. Ranked the number one competitive eater in the world by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, Chestnut is a trencherman of extraordinary caliber.
For many years, Japanese competitive eater Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi held the world record for hot dog consumption. Yet the king was dethroned in 2007 when the then-upstart Chestnut beat his record, ending the six-year reign at the legendary Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Chestnut has won every year since, besting his original record on three different occasions.
Chestnut started his career two years prior to his first Nathan’s win, when one of his younger brothers entered Joey into a lobster-eating contest in Reno, Nevada. Though Jaws walked away from the lobster competition without even placing, his appetite had been thoroughly whetted. That same year, Chestnut took down veteran eater Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas in the Waffle House World Waffle-Eating Championship and highly ranked Rich LeFevre at a deep-fried asparagus-eating competition. He received the coveted Rookie of the Year title, further proof of his rising status among the world’s best competitive eaters.