Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Champ Joey Chestnut Teaches Us How To Eat 69 Hot Dogs in 10 Minutes

You're going to need a lot of napkins

On the Fourth of July, onlookers will watch in amazement during the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, as competitive eaters scarf down dozens of dogs in an Independence Day tradition unlike any other. We spoke with the event’s eight-time defending champ Joey Chestnut, 31, a man whose career consumption numbers are staggering: 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes, a world-record 182 chicken wings in 10 minutes and 390 shrimp in a single sitting just because he could. 

 

Joey Chestnut Hot Dog Eating ChampHere are his secrets to success:

 

Qualify to Conquer

“It takes close to 30 hot dogs to advance in a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest qualifier. If you want to do this, keep a food diary and pay attention to how your body responds to how much you’re eating. It’s not about all that you can eat; it’s about making your body work for you for those 10 minutes.”

  

Fast, Then Furious

“I follow a very strict diet. The day after every practice, I eat yogurt and a salad and then I go into fasting, drinking only water. When I was young I thought I didn’t need a diet, but I do my best the thinner I am. I swim every day in my pool. …

“I’ve done this for nine years, and I’ve slowly built up my tolerance. During the competitive season in the summer, I follow a cycle where I practice every fourth day and then I fast for two days. My practices mimic the competitions. If I’m preparing for the hot dog contest, I try to eat 60 hot dogs in 10 minutes.”

Liquid Diet

“I’ll fast three days before an event, and during that time I’ll drink three to six gallons of water a day. It’s very much a cleanse to make sure I go into the competition empty. The day of the event I’ll drink a small amount of water and some coffee. … 

 

“Water helps the food settle down deep in my stomach. Soaking the bun also makes swallowing faster. I don’t ever worry about liquid capacity. I’ve found the more liquid I consume, the easier it is to digest the food.”

 

No Pain, No Gain …

“Like how runners hit that wall, I do feel the point when my body tells me to stop. I’m pretty good at ignoring that feeling. I even have ‘Ignore Feelings’ written on my mirror at home. I accept that it is going to hurt, and that makes it easier to push through it.”

 

… No Fear

“Like a professional swimmer can’t imagine choking on water during a race, I can’t imagine choking on hot dogs. It looks like I’m not chewing, but I’m chewing just enough to swallow.”

 

—by Matt McCue

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