Eating Fast: The Most Famous Eating Competitions

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

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Harrah’s Louisiana Downs World Grits Eating Championship

In 2007, Patrick Bertoletti worked down 21 pounds of grits at the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs to set a record, finishing the feat in 10 minutes. The Illinois native also holds a record for most jalapenos with 275 during an eight-minute event.

Reigning champion: Patrick Bertoletti, 21 pounds of grits in 10 minutes

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World-Famous St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail Eating Championship

The event is a yearly tradition that takes place before the annual Big Ten Football Championship. This year, it went down from The Meijer Tailgate Party in downtown Indianapolis, with St. Elmo Steak House providing sponsorship.

Joey Chestnut, a legend on the competitive eating circuit, made it five consecutive victories at the event when he finished off 10 pounds and 6.4 ounces of shrimp cocktail in just eight minutes. In fact, Chestnut has never lost at the event. Gideon Oji was second, eating eight pounds, followed by Derek Jacobs, Crazy Legs Conti, and Ivan Mendoza. Over $3,000 in total prize money was handed out.

Reigning champion: Joey Chestnut, 10 pounds, 6.4 ounces in eight minutes

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