The Fourth of July, a holiday celebrating American independence, is commemorated with parades, fireworks, and festivities. The day also embraces a unique tradition of competitive eating, with a hot dog eating contest that has made Joey Chestnut a household name around the world.
Chestnut’s Dominance: Since entering his first hot dog contest in 2005, Chestnut has been one of the top competitive eaters in the world.
The winner of 15 Mustard Belts, Chestnut hasn’t lost the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest since 2015 and holds many of the records for the annual competition, sponsored by Nathan’s Famous Inc NATH.
Chestnut holds the current record for the annual hot dog eating competition with 76 hot dogs eaten in 2021, according to ESPN. Chestnut also holds the 10 highest totals in the event, giving him complete dominance on the leaderboard.
Chestnut has eaten 1,152 hot dogs and buns in the annual event since 2005. The total length of the hot dogs consumed by Chestnut equals 648 feet, surpassing the height of the Statue of Liberty (305 feet) by more than double.
Along with records in hot dog eating, Chestnut also holds Major League Eating records in 54 different categories. Chestnut holds numerous eating records, including consuming 182 chicken wings in 30 minutes, 47 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes, 121 Twinkies in 6 minutes, among other food feats.
Chestnut’s dominance of 15 titles in one competition could make him arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time, if one considers competitive eating as a sport. Michael Jordan won six NBA titles, Tom Brady won seven Super Bowls, but neither has come close to double-digit championships in their respective sports.
In the four major North American sports, the record is 11 titles, set by Bill Russell in the NBA and Henri Richard in the NHL.
Outside the four sports, Rafael Nadal may have the next best comparable, winning 14 French Opens between 2005 and 2022, dominating one of the annual grand slam tennis competitions.
Sponsors and Going Full Time: Thanks to his success in competitive eating and the ability to attract sponsors, Chestnut has earned over $4 million, as reported by USA Today. This includes earning over $500,000 last year.
“You have to see yourself as a business when you’re working for yourself,” Chestnut told USA Today.
While many competitive eaters have to work full-time or part-time due to the lower prize payouts than professional sports, Chestnut was able to leave his construction management job in 2010.
That same year, Chestnut was offered a sponsorship deal from Pepto-Bismol, netting him $10,000 per event for four separate competitive eating contests.
Chestnut was able to quit his job and also buy a home, which he said led to some awkward conversations explaining his full-time job of competitive eating during the home loan process.
Sponsorships for Chestnut today include PepsiCo PEP, DUDE Wipes, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and Wonderful Pistachios.
“The Pepsi one is definitely a little bit of a game-changer,” Chestnut told USA Today, although he chose not to disclose the monetary value of his agreements.
Chestnut is represented by Everest Talent Management.
Betting Odds: Chestnut holds the record for devouring 76 hot dogs, and has surpassed the milestone of 70 hot dogs and buns in a single event on six separate occasions.
In the last 16 years, Chestnut has won 15 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contests, losing only in 2015 in an upset to Matt Stonie. Chestnut is the winner of seven straight competitions.
Betting odds at DraftKings Inc DKNG list Chestnut as the favorite at odds of -4000. The next highest competition is listed as Geoffrey Esper at +1000 and Nick Wehry at +2000.
The over/under is listed at 72.5 hot dogs and buns for Chestnut. Other prop bets include if Chestnut will break his record with more than 76 hot dogs and buns eaten, which has odds of +285 and a spread of -22.5 for Chestnut against Esper.
The overwhelmingly favored odds for Chestnut imply that a bettor wagering $100 would stand to gain only $2.50 if Chestnut clinches the title. A bettor would have to bet $4,000 to win $100 on Chestnut. Many are backing the favorite, and many are placing wagers on the over/under for Chestnut. One bettor at DraftKings has placed a $2,000 bet on Chestnut to win, which would yield a modest profit of $50.
In 2022, Chestnut won the competition with 63 hot dogs and buns eaten, but it came with a slight asterisk as he was interrupted by a protester on stage. Chestnut put the protester in a headlock before security took them away. The disruption saw several sportsbooks refund bets on the over.
In the 2022 contest, despite competing on crutches due to a ruptured tendon, Chestnut triumphed, downing 16 more hot dogs and buns than Esper. He was even aiming to shatter his own record by eating 80 hot dogs. As in other years, Chestnut was a major favorite in 2022, with some sportsbooks listing him at odds of -10000.
Esper has a career-best in the competition of 51 hot dogs and buns, and has finished in second place in the last two years. Esper holds records in several food-eating competitions, even beating Chestnut in a donut-eating competition in 2019. Esper said in an interview that he’s been practicing a method of separating two hot dogs, eating them, and then eating buns that are dunked in fruit punch to wash them down better.
In the women’s category of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Miki Sudo is a huge favorite with odds of -500. Sudo holds the record with 48.5 hot dogs eaten, set in 2020, and has won eight of the 12 women’s competitions. In 2022, Sudo won the competition with 40 hot dogs, outperforming the nearest competitor by a margin of 16.
Sudo, who is the wife of Wehry, is featured in several betting props on DraftKings. A bet of over/under 114.5 hot dogs for Chestnut and Sudo is offered. A spread bet of Chestnut -30.5 vs. Sudo is also offered.
The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest will air on the ESPN app and ESPN2, units of The Walt Disney Company DIS, at 12 p.m. ET Tuesday, July 4. The women’s competition will air on the ESPN app at 10:45 a.m. ET Tuesday.