- Joey Chestnut won Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest after eating 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
- Chestnut told Insider he begins training in January with dieting, practice rounds, and cleanses.
- He even does special jaw and mouth exercises to make it easier to swallow the hot dogs.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Joey Chestnut is known for eating a lot of food in very little time, but his talent doesn’t come without a lot of training and sacrifice.
Chestnut has won the iconic competition 14 times. But he doesn’t just show up to Coney Island and eat some franks every Fourth of July.
Joey Chestnut starts preparing for the contest 6 months in advance
Chestnut begins dieting and working out after the holidays to get himself in the best shape possible before he has to start training with the hot dogs.
At the end of April – more than two months before the competition – he starts doing a practice contest every week. Chestnut’s basement is even set up with speakers and flashing lights to help mimic the Coney Island environment.
“With the contest, it’s amazing because there are people yelling at you and an MC and music,” he said. “But with practice, sometimes it’s really, really hard to get excited to eat, so I work really hard to take every practice seriously.”
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.
“Most people, when you eat food, it takes nine to 10 hours to really digest it,” he said. “After I do a cleanse, things are moving quickly.”
Chestnut even does special mouth and jaw exercises to help him get ready for the competition
“In between practices, I’m working on my jaw and throat,” he said. “I have a weird routine of exercises I do that really make those little muscles in my jaw and throat much stronger.”
“They’re moving 15 to 16 pounds of food, plus another gallon of water,” Chestnut added. “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.”
Chestnut has a recovery period after each practice round and eats normally for one to two days. Then the cycle begins again.
“Every practice, I record it and I try to push a little bit harder and figure out what I can do differently,” he said. “You can only practice so much. If I practice too much I start gaining weight, and if I start gaining weight then I start slowing down. So it’s a weird double-edged sword. You have to love to eat, but you can’t eat so much that it becomes unhealthy.”
But what exactly happens to Chestnut’s body after the competition?
“Most people relate to feeling really bloated and tired after Thanksgiving,” he said. “It’s kind of like that, except really, really bad.”
Chestnut is always “sweating like a madman” right after the contest, and some people have even told him that it smells like hot dogs.
It takes two full days for Chestnut to “really start to feel normal again,” but that hasn’t changed his love for hot dogs – or competitive eating.
“Runners, they look like they’re going to die at the end of a marathon but they still love to run,” he said. “And I love a good hot dog.”