Competitive eating didn’t really exist as a serious sport in the U.S. until the mid-1990s, but it is fast becoming ingrained in the country’s sporting culture.
Thanks to television coverage and social media, competitive eating is growing rapidly and the sport now has its own official league, rankings, and personalities. According to Major League Eating, the world body that oversees all professional eating contests, here are three of the top competitive eaters making names for themselves.
The 32-year-old from San Jose, CA is described by MLE as the world’s greatest eater EVER. He recently shattered his winning 2015 record of 12.25 lbs of shrimp by eating 15 lbs of shrimp in 8 minutes at the 2016 St. Elmo’s Shrimp Eating Contest. The shrimp cocktail concoctions are what The Travel Channel calls, “the world’s spiciest food”. He defeated seemingly unbeatable Kobayashi in 2007 at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest to start an unprecedented eight-year championship run. After losing in 2015, Chestnut reclaimed his throne during Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in July, 2016 by eating 70 hot dogs (with buns!) in just 10 minutes. For you calorie counters out there, that is approximately 19,600 calories. Remember that next time you’re feeling logy from a big meal. Months later, he reclaimed another throne by eating 9.6 lbs of ribs in 12 minutes at the Nugget World Rib-Eating Competition. What might even be more amazing is that it isn’t even close to the world record of 13.8 lbs of ribs eaten in 2013 -- which of course was eaten by none other than Mr. Chestnut. He holds a World Record of 43 World Records across 43 disciplines.
Who can eat 200 peeps? Matt Stonie, that’s who.
Like Chestnut, Stonie is a native of San Jose, CA (is there something in the water in that South Bay community that encourages this?!) He dethroned Chestnut in 2015 in the hot dog and rib-eating competitions. Known for his blazing speed, the 24-year-old looks like he will continue to speed through record books in what looks like a long career ahead. Stonie is also embracing the digital world, and it seems like every week he is popping up in a new video eating massive amounts of delicious, spicy, and absurd meals. Just the other week, Stonie ate 36 slices of French toast: 12 regular, 12 cinnamon, and 12 dipped in Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal AND drenched in a jug of maple syrup. He inhaled the toast slices in just 25 minutes.
One of several other top eaters on in the circuit, Miki Sudo proves competitive sport overeating isn’t just for the boys. In fact, in 2014 she topped Joey Chestnut in the World Turkey Eating Championship by eating 8.8 lbs of turkey in 10 minutes compared to Chestnut’s 8.4. At this year’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Sudo retained her crown by eating 38.5 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Her methodical and patient style also saw her eat her way through 8.5 lbs of Kimchi at the Chicago Korean Festival in 6 minutes back in 2013 when she gobbled her way onto the scene. Sudo is ranked No.1 among women and 4th overall. Watch the video to see why men overeat in public.