Joey Chesnut is one of our most dominate athletes
I want to start this piece out by saying I first intended to title it: “Chesnut. Roasting. And an Open Fire,” but, I’m Jewish, so legally I don’t know how that would play out. It doesn’t change the fact, though, that I’m about to applaud one of the greatest champions of our generation for all of these next 1,500 words.
Do you play basketball? What about baseball? OK, football? Hockey? Golf? Tennis? What the hell, do you even swim?? Do you do anything besides sit and eat Cheetos while watching all of these sports from the comfort of your favorite corner spot on your sectional couch? Wait, backtrack a second. What was the one thing that you say you DID do? Masturbating? Oh, sorry, too far back. It’s that thing you do after you masturbate (or before if you’re weird). The eating part. You DO eat. Good to know. I’m pretty positive that 99.9% of living people in the world eat as well. But the thing is, even if you do that three or four (or ten) times a day, every day, for the rest of your life, you will never be the best at it. Something so rudimentary and natural to you, you think you’d be good at it by now. Anyone who has the ability to read these words, has, at least at one point in their life, fed themselves and thought: “Yeah well at least I’m good at eating.”
You might stare down that eighth slice of pizza, hand clutching your stomach, hyping yourself up by yelling “DON’T BE A PUSSY AND FINISH IT!” You struggle with each and every bite down to the last bit of crust. One last plunge scraping the remnants of the garlic butter container, and down your gullet it regretfully goes. You lean back, keeled over with grease still glimmering on the sides of your mouth. Arms raised as high as you can muster them above your head in jubilation. 2,800 calories of heavenly goodness gone within 15-minutes of tipping the delivery driver. You did it. You finished the whole pie. An accomplishment ever so deserving of an imaginary plaque, or at least a gloating Twitter post or Instagram story.
Congratulations to you. You have impressed few and humored less. Your post gets a single digit amount of likes, a scowl from your mother, and a sarcastic reply from @Tumstweets saying: You might need these later!
And then, July 4th happens. It’s around 12:30pm when all of your eminence and shame start to wash away. You see Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, a 230-pound San Josean being carried through a crowd of Coney Island patriots like a Greek god, on his way to defend his insurmountable Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest titles; a then-record 10-wins to his name. Ten mustard colored championship belts that would make Macho Man Randy Savage jealous. And just like that, all of your insignificant eating accolades wash away into the thinnest of airs. You’re back to reality. Maybe scootched over to the middle of the couch; maybe even laying down preparing yourself for the first of many beers of the day.
ESPN is showing flashbacks from 2007 when Joey Chestnut rose to fame and stardom by outdueling the current back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back (that’s six) hot dog eater Takeru Kobayashi 66-63 (in 12 minutes), breaking the then world record as well. They show him in winning in 2008 when the contest switched from 12 to 10 minutes. They show him winning again in 2009. In 2010. 2011, ’12, ’13 and ’14. It’s an eight-peat for America!
Then 2015 happens. Joey Chestnut loses. He loses at eating hot dogs to the 130-pound Matt Stonie by two (62-60). The Major League Eating world is shaken (The MLE is a real thing, and I love that more than anything in sports). The Eaters Digest headings read “CHESTNUT ROASTED! STONIE WAS ON FIRE! (there it is!). Some said Chestnut would never eat again. He was washed. Done. Cooked. Served on a platter with a fork stuck in him. Sick of hot dogs. Bound for retirement from competitive eating. (Retiring from eating fast is a funny concept to think about. I once ate an entire medium-sized spicy chicken combo meal from Wendy’s during the time it took my friend to go into a gas station to get a pack of cigarettes and get back in the car, and I was extremely proud.)
I’m not sure if it was the fake news article that I just came up with or the fact that Joey has big, giant cajones made of steel, but that loss only fueled him more. In 2013, Chestnut set a new record for hot dogs consumed in 10 minutes with 69 (nice). After losing, he comes back in 2016 and DEMOLISHES that record by ONE WHOLE HOT DOG! 70!! 70 hot dogs in ten minutes! HOLY SHIT! CHESTNUT ON FIRE! STONIE ROASTED! He’s back and better than ever.
The next three years after the loss, Chestnut put down 70, 72, and 74 of Nathan’s dogs respectively. It’s a three-peat! Three straight wins, three straight records, an eleventh belt! Back on top of being the best eater in the entire world. A title so few have come to claim (I would assume that Genghis Khan probably held the “greatest eater in the world” title at one point in his life. Other probable title holders: Andre the Giant, Fat Joe, Aretha Franklin, the Tyrannosaurus-Rex).
So few athletes have done what Chestnut has done in one single event, much less for a championship or a major. 11 wins in the most prestigious competition in his sport. Only three other athletes have won 11 championships in their sport, with only one of those being an individual sport.
11-TIME WINNERS IN ONE EVENT:
- Joey Chestnut
- The eater guy
- Bill Russell:
- 11 NBA Championships, all with the Boston Celtics.
- Won eight in a row between the 1958-1966 seasons
- Rafael Nadel:
- 11-time French Open winner
- 11-time Barcelona Open winner
- 11-time Monte Carlo Open winner
- Henri Richard:
- 11-time Stanley Cup winner, all with the Montreal Canadians
- Phil Jackson:
- Coached 11 NBA championship teams (Chicago Bulls-6; Los Angeles Lakers-5)
- Won two with the New York Knicks as a player in 1970 and 1973
- Geno Auriemma:
- Coached 11 NCAAW Tournament Champions at the University of Connecticut
Other respected and notable athletes have gotten close to the 11-wins-in-one-event plateau.
OTHER NOTABLE MULTIPLE TIME EVENT WINNERS:
- Yogi Berra:
- 10 World Series rings as the New York Yankees Catcher between 1947-1962
- Three rings as a coach
- Tiger Woods:
- 8-time winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC-Bridgestone
- 7-time winner of the Farmers Insurance Open and WGC-Mexico
- 14 total major wins
- Sam Snead:
- 8-time winner of the Greater Greensboro Open
- Roger Federer:
- 8-time winner at Wimbledon
- Pete Sampras:
- 8-time winner at Wimbledon
- Serena Williams:
- 7-time winner at Wimbledon
- 7-time Australian Open winner
- 6-time US Open winner
- Steffi Graf:
- 6-time French Open winner
- 7-time winner at Wimbledon
- 5-time US Open winner
- Lance Armstrong:
- 7 Tour de France titles won while on drugs
- 1 testicle taken from him probably causing him to do drugs
- Jack Nicklaus
- 6-time winner of The Masters
- 18 total major wins
(You can also make a case for Michael Phelps, obviously, the most decorated Olympian of all time. Phelps holds the Olympic record for gold medals won (23) and individual gold medals won (13). He just did all of that in different events, which is why I’m not going to give “The Baltimore Bullet” his own bullet point. Capiche?)
As athletes (not including the two coaches) only three players in the history of team sports have cracked the double-digit win total in one event. The rest are all individual accomplishments; golf, swimming, tennis, and eating. That’s quite the feat. And you know what everybody does before playing any sport ever? That’s right. They eat. They eat and then go win a championship. But Joey? Joey “Jaws” Chestnut? He eats TO win a championship. He trains by eating. He eats while eating. He is the greatest eater that has ever walked our planet.
Think about this the next time you order four crunch wrap supremes and two bean burritos from Taco Bell. You may feel on top of the world, ready to drunkenly delve into the cheesy, hexagonal faux-Mexican gourmet delicacy, but just know that Joey Chestnut is out there, somewhere, training his stomach off to eventually eat 80 hot dogs at once, and to know that your own horrible eating habits ain’t shit.
And that, to me, is what makes a great champion.
I hope Jaws keeps going. I hope he wins the next nine belts to become a 20-time winner. I hope he never dies of high cholesterol. Joey is 35-years-old, an unknown factor in knowing whether or not that hurts or helps his chances of eating. Can he continue his reign into his 40s? Will he still be eating fast in his 50s? When does one call it quits from eating as a sport? Is a hot dog a sandwich? (It’s not)
Some questions will remain unanswered. We may never know until the time comes. But when asked who the greatest eater to ever live was? The answer will and should always be Joey Chestnut. The man from San Jose who eats and doesn’t get fat. What a gift! ♦