Joey Chestnut says he is ready to defend his title in the 2020 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
In a new interview, the reigning champ, who downed 71 hotdogs in last year’s competition, revealed he ate all of the practice hot dogs that Nathan’s sent him — and then some.
“Nathan’s shipped me out 90 pounds,” Chestnut, 36, told The New York Post. “I definitely had 90 pounds. They’re gone. I had to buy some more on my own.”
The competitive eater, nicknamed “Joey Jaws,” said that being in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic has thrown him through a loop because he hasn’t been in many contests this year to gauge how he’s doing.
“This year I’ve done one contest, and it was in February, so I haven’t been in competition mode that much at all, so it’s been a lot of trying to be self-motivated,” he said.
Chestnut said he has done some solo competitions while in quarantine. He broke a Big Mac world record and also did a 100 Pop-Tart challenge, which he admitted was “terrible.”
“They got super dry, it tore up my mouth,” Chestnut said.
Chestnut also admitted that some of his practices have been “really bad” because he’s been lacking intensity. The 12-time hot dog champ revealed that for the 2020 contest he hopes to scarf down 12 to 13 hot dogs in the first minute and be up to 23 to 24 in the second minute of the 10-minute contest.
“Then I know I’m going to be pretty close to a record. Minutes six and seven, that’s where it’s really important,” he added.
Chestnut’s record is 74 hotdogs, which won him the title in 2018.
For the 2020 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest, COVID-19 has changed the game. The competition will be held indoors at an undisclosed location without a live audience of cheering fans at its usual outdoor Coney Island location.
The lineup has also been changed. Instead of the usual 15 competitive eaters, this year’s contest will only feature five contestants competing for the Mustard Belt and that $10,000 grand prize.
While he was dethroned once by opponent Matt Stonie — the 28-year-old ended Chestnut’s eight-year winning streak in 2015 — “Joey Jaws” seems confident ahead of his 16th year of competition as he eyes his 13th title.
“Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated with my insane diet and intense practices when I’m so far ahead of the other competitors,” he wrote on Instagram.
Chestnut credited his fans for keeping him motivated and for pushing him to new limits.