Longtime competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has been banned from participating in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest due to his relationship with a rival hot dog company, per NBC New York.

Chestnut, who has won the contest 16 times, is “devastated” and took to X to share his disappointment at the news, saying he would be back to the contest as soon as he could.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero. We would love nothing more than to have him at the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, which he has dominated for years. We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand,” said Major League Eating, which runs the contest, in a statement.

Impossible Foods, the rival brand, said: “We love Joey and support him in any contest he chooses. It’s OK to experiment with a new dog.”

I competed in a hot dog eating contest and lost. Here’s what I learned about competitive eating

How Joey Chestnut started eating so much

How did Joey Chestnut’s eating skills become so in demand that brands are fighting to sponsor him?

He first set foot in the competitive eating arena in 2005, while a student at San Jose University, per The Sporting News. That year, he clinched his first competitive eating victory when he consumed 6 1/2 pounds of fried asparagus in under 12 minutes. He also qualified for Nathan’s contest and devoured 32 hot dogs.

By 2011, Chestnut had gotten so good on the competitive eating circuit that he left his construction management job. His dedication to the sport quickly paid off.

He shot up from 32 hot dogs in 2005 to 74 hot dogs in 2018, per NBC New York, then beat his own world record with 75 in 2020. He beat it again in 2021 with 76 hot dogs, which is where the record still stands.

Competition earnings and sponsorship deals keep Chestnut not just afloat, but wealthy: In 2022, his net worth totaled $4 million. He made $500,000 in 2022, according to The Sporting News.

How does Joey Chestnut do it?

Competitive eating is no joke. Chestnut is rigorous and methodical with his training.

After holiday season, he diets and works out, according to Business Insider. Two months before the Nathan’s contest, which takes place on July 4 each year, he sets himself weekly practice contests.

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“It takes a week just to prepare for each practice round. Chestnut starts by doing a two-day cleanse of water and lemon juice, the same cleanse he uses before the actual competition,” Business Insider reported.

He also incorporates jaw and throat exercises to enhance his capacity and efficiency.

“(My jaw and throat muscles are) moving 15 to 16 pounds of food, plus another gallon of water,” Chestnut said, per Business Insider. “Most people’s jaws can only move like a pound and a half of food in over an hour, so these little muscles work really hard. I’ve really figured out how to push them.”

After eating, Chestnut enters a recovery period. He reports feeling bloated and exhausted as well as sweating profusely. Some have even told him that, after eating contests, his sweat smells like hot dogs.

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