Over the past several years, competitive eating competitions have gone from something held only at county fairs to being broadcast nationally on ESPN. In the world of competitive eating, it isn’t just about being the biggest. People like Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi have shown that it takes time and practice to confidently gobble down an extraordinary amount of food in a short amount of time.
Chestnut looks the part of any typical American, standing 6’1” and weighing 230 pounds, but his skills on the circuit are a sight to see. He is a returning champion that is currently ranked No. 1 in the world. While enrolled at San Jose State University, Chestnut broke into the competitive eating world by taking down then-No. 1 Rich LeFevre in an asparagus competition. Since then, he’s been the most well-known of those on the tour. Kobayashi is just 126 pounds, but holds eight Guinness Record for eating the most hot dogs, meatballs, Twinkies, tacos, hamburgers, pizza, ice cream, and pasta in timed events.
Here’s a look at 12 of the most famous eating competitions in the world, many of which have been conquered by these two goliaths of the competitive eating pantheon!
Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Championship
The world of competitive eating made headlines with the success of the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Championship. Battles featuring Joey Chestnut became regular viewing over the Fourth of July holiday in the United States, as contestants gobbled down as many hot dogs as possible.
Chestnut battled against rising star Carmen Cincotti this past year, setting a Coney Island record with 72 hot dogs. He has won the Mustard Belt 10 times in his career. This contest isn’t exclusive to men though, everyone gets an opportunity to eat way too many hotdogs. Women also hit the stage at Nathan’s, with Miki Sudo snagging her fourth crown with a new personal-best of 41 hot dogs to defeat Michelle Lesco and Sonya Thomas.
Reigning champion: Joey Chestnut, 72 Nathan’s hot dogs