Joey Chestnut trains his stomach like most hard Olympic athletes train the rest of their muscles: with hours of practice and an almost obsessive quest to mold the body. The difference? Joey’s not throwing a javelin, or going for the gold in an Olympic pool: he’s trying to stretch his stomach to hold 60+ hotdogs.
We caught up with Joey right before his quest for first place in the Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship championship in Los Angeles on August 16th, as he tries to regain the crown after losing last year.
Are you excited to reclaim your title?
I was pretty bummed-out last year. I can’t wait to get down to practice and really aim for a new record. Last year i was a little bit sick going into the event, but this year, I am practicing and hopefully I will stay healthy.
How is eating gyoza different from hotdogs in a competition setting?
It’s a different texture altogether and there’s no bun, but both are a high capacity food.
What’s your overall strategy, day-of?
I’m not as fit as some of the other guys. I don’t want to get winded, because once you’re winded, you can’t swallow. My goal is to get into a rhythm. I don’t start out like a madman. I eat more intensely. I do 24 of these per year.
Your new fiancée will be competing with you. Did you guys meet through competitive eating?
She got into it because we live together, and because I have a crazy diet. It just became easier for her to do it at the same time as me. It’s hard when she would cook different food, and I couldn’t eat it because I was fasting. It’s easier for her to just join me.
How do you train leading up to competitions?
In the long-run, I have to monitor my calorie intake, otherwise I blow up like a madman. I work hard to treat my body right. I use my body, I don’t abuse it, and I respect it. I can realy tell when I’m gaining or losing too much weight. Sometimes the greasy foods will get to me, so I know when I need to rest and recover. My doctor thinks I’m healthy. I tell him everything: my diet, my weight goals, calorie intake, etc. He would like me to be a little less heavy, but I’m doing pretty well, otherwise. I do a lot of swimming, weight-lifitng, a little bit of running.
What is your favorite meal to eat a normal amount of?
I like King crab. It’s hard to beat that.
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi