Joey “Jaws” Chestnut is undoubtedly the greatest eater that has ever walked the Earth. He holds at least 50 world records and probably has consumed more calories than every animal except maybe the Blue Whale. Maybe. He also has a genius workout routine.
It’s not hyperbole to say the top competitive eater in the world owns sports’ most impressive dynasty. Sorry, 1990’s Chicago Bulls, but try eating 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes. When Chestnut defeated rival Takeru Kobayashi at the 2007 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, he wore the Mustard Belt and turned the international event into his personal mukbang for the next eight years.
Chestnut has become world-famous for his hot dog- and bun-eating abilities. He’s won 12 of the last 13 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest (Matt Stonie upset him in 2015), eating more than 1,000 hot dogs at the Coney Island, New York, event over the course of his eating career. He’s also eaten foods like gumbo, asparagus and Big Macs.
“It feels like absolute garbage,” he told ESPN about how he feels after competitively eating. “I’m exhausted, drunk on hot dogs. Hours later I’ll take Pepto to help digest and hope to fall asleep.”
The full-time face-stuffer isn’t planning on giving his stomach a break anytime soon. Considering the money he makes from competitive eating and endorsements, why would he? Chestnut has built a sizable career out of ingesting way more than just hot dogs.
How Old Is Joey Chestnut?
Chestnut is 37 years old, and he has owned the competitive eating world for years now.
Born on November 25, 1983, in Vallejo, California, Joseph Christian Chestnut was destined to eat since his early life. He was raised in Fulton County, Kentucky. He attended San Jose State University in California and as a student defeated the notable Rich LeFevre in a deep-fried asparagus eating competition in 2005.
“My little brother signed me up for my first contest,” he told ESPN. “After that first contest, I knew my body was made for it and I could figure out how to beat everybody.”
That same year, he scarfed down 32 hot dogs at the Nathan’s contest, placing him in third behind Kobayashi and Sonya Thomas. He also set a new record by eating 32.5 grilled cheese sandwiches and won the Waffle House World Waffle Eating Championship.
Two years later, he began his hot dog reign.
In 2021, the 37-year-old is still going strong. He won two competitions at the beginning of last year, eating 10 cups of ramen and setting a new world record by downing nearly 24 pounds of red beans and rice (for which he earned a $1,500 check).
As always, he’s expected to steal the show on Coney Island, New York, come July 4.
Joey Chestnut’s Salary, Endorsements & Sponsorships
Joey Chestnut’s work is slightly different than your standard 9-to-5, which means he isn’t exactly on a salary.
While there’s no way to know for sure, he probably has a pretty lucrative contract with Major League Eating. Kobayashi’s contract dispute with MLE in 2010 led to him sign a deal with Hofmann’s, a hot dog company that reportedly agreed to pay him $100,000 annually as well as gave him stake in the company. Chestnut is a household name and likely has something worth more with MLE.
Chestnut’s career winnings have also boosted his bank account. The American competitive eater has earned at least cool $600,000 from winning contests, according to The New York Post.
The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest pays its winner $10,000, so Chestnut’s taken home $120,000 just from that contest alone (though he could make $10,000 more in 2021). In 2019, besides the $10,000 he gained from inhaling franks, he won 10 MLE competitions that had a combined total prize purse of $44,000.
However, we don’t know what percentage of the total prize money he saw last year. For example, the hot dog competition’s total prize money equals $40,000, but the first-place winner gets one fourth of that.
Chestnut also has other ways of making money. His Youtube channel boasts 200,000 subscribers. That isn’t nearly the 14 million fellow competitive eater Matt Stonie has on his Youtube channel, but it isn’t too shabby. Stonie reportedly makes as much as $6,000 per day in advertising dollars off of the social media account alone.
Endorsements are another way Chestnut cashed in on his career. He’s posted on social media endorsing companies like Hooters, Hostess, Coney Island IPA and Pepto Bismol, the last of which just makes too much sense.
He also his own line of condiments in grocery stores. The sauce bottles include the Firecracker Mustard and Boardwalk coney sauce and sell for about $5.
Joey Chestnut’s Eating Records
Chestnut’s stomach is fascinating. Sports Science even produced a whole episode explaining how it can fit so much food into it at one time.
But make no mistake, Chestnut trains just like any other professional athlete does. It’s a year-round grind that includes fasting and stretching his stomach with protein supplements, water and milk.
“It’s not something that there’s books written about,” Chestnut told CNBC about his training regiment. “There’s not trainers. Everything’s trial and error.”
His body has enabled him to hold 50 world records in the competitive eating department. That’s a whole lot of calories of the eating contestant, so let’s point out some of the more notable records that have made his digestive system work hard throughout the years.
2006: Grilled cheese sandwich: 47 sandwiches in 10 minutes
2007: Chicken Wings: 182 wings in 30 minutes
2009: Funnel cake: 5.9 lbs in 10 minutes
2011: Taco Bell Tacos: 53 soft beef tacos in 10 minutes
2012: Tamales: 102 tamales in 12 minutes
2013: Twinkies: 121 Twinkies in 6 minutes
2014: Deep Fried Asparagus: 12.8 lbs of deep fried asparagus in 10 minutes
2015: Gumbo: 15 bowls (1.875 gallons) in 8 minutes
2016: Meat pies: 23 meat pies in 10 minutes
2017: Glazed Doughnuts: 55 doughnuts in 8 minutes
2018: Hostess Donettes: 257 Hostess Donettes in 6 minutesAdvertisement
2019: Croquettes: 185 croquettes in 10 minutes
2020: Big Mac: 32 Big Macs in 38 minutes
My arteries are sweating just looking at that list.
Joey Chestnut’s Girlfriend
Chestnut proposed to his long-time girlfriend and fellow competitive eater Neslie Ricasa before winning the 2014 Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest. The two pulled a banana split a year later, however, just before their wedding date.
Now, it appears Chestnut has a girlfriend. He posted a photo on Instagram in 2019 with someone he called his “amazing babe.” In a following post, he mentioned he felt guilty asking his “girlfriend” to take care of his white German Shepherd, Thorn, while he traveled for work.
Imagine trying to cook dinner for a man who once ate 10 and a half pounds of macaroni and cheese. Or looking at the bill after splurging at a restaurant with him. Sheesh.
We can’t confirm if the two are still together, however.
What Is Joey Chestnut’s Net Worth?
We’ve all probably typed “Joey Chestnut net worth” or “how rich can you be by eating?” into Google’s search bar at one point, well, because he has a job most of us would kill for. It turns out it pays pretty well to eat the way he does.
Joey Chestnut has an estimated net worth of $2 million in 2021, according to Celebrity Net Worth. There’s no one in the United States or on the planet that owns the world of competitive eating quite like he does. He might never retire (why would he?), but at least he’ll probably be able to judging from his worth.
This post was originally published June 24, 2020 but has been updated.