Joey “Jaws” Chestnut is one of America’s most recognizable competitive eaters.
He’s become a staple figure in 4th of July celebrations in recent years, as he is an eight-time champ of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. On Monday, Chestnut looks to reclaim his title against Matt Stonie, who defeated him last year in front of a crowd of nearly 50,000 spectators at Coney Island.
The 32-year-old earns an annual income around $200,000 from prize money, sponsorships and public appearances according to Forbes.
Here are five fast facts to know about Chestnut’s net worth and prize money:
1. His Net Worth Is Estimated to be $800,000
Competitive eating is a full time job for Chestnut. He trains year-round in a manner similar to a marathon runner, except with foods. He has several timed-eating warm-up days, leading up to one full-out practice day. The 32-year-old trains by constantly fasting and stretching his stomach with protein supplements, water and milk. He also runs three times a week to improve his breath control and his pacing.
In the weeks leading up to Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Chestnut has followed a strict regimen in hopes of taking back his title.
“I can’t skip a training day right now,” Chestnut explained to The Washington Post. “I’ve been waiting all year for the Fourth of July, to get it back.”
Two and a half days prior to the July 4 hot dog contest, Chestnut stopped eating solid foods and nourished himself with supplements, milk and plenty of water to empty his system.
The morning of the competition, Chestnut explained to Forbes that he’ll drink a small amount of coffee, take an anti-inflammatory, and drink enough water to prevent dehydration.
His net worth is estimated at $800,000 according to Celebrity Net Worth.
2. He Quit His Job in Construction Management
Chestnut’s quick rise in the competitive eating world came when he won Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest eight years in a row. He quit his job in construction management five years ago to become a full-time competitive eater.
“It would be silly not to do it; I get paid to travel around the world and eat,” Chestnut told The Washington Post.
In 2014, America watched as he popped the question to his longtime girlfriend on stage just before his eighth consecutive win. Chestnut and his fiancee called off the engagement in early 2015.
“Last year was a [horrible] year, a dog crap kind of year. It was awful,” Chestnut told The Washington Post. “We called off the wedding. Then I lost. Everything kept going down. I lost a couple other big contests. Just: it sucked. I lost my ranking, Oh, God. . . . It was just so irritating, knowing I could do better and I wasn’t.”
3. Chestnut Entered the Competitive Eating Circuit in 2005
Chestnut began his career in competitive eating in 2015 with a few break-out performances. One of his first major events was the Stockton Deep Fried Asparagus Championship in which he beat high-ranked eater Rich LeFevre by eating 6.3 pounds of asparagus in 11.5 minutes. He went on to compete in his first Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest that same year, where he consumed 32 dogs, placing third behind Takeru Kobayashi and Sonya Thomas.
Three months later, Chestnut set a world record for downing 32.5 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes as part of the GoldenPalace.net World Grilled Cheese Eating Championship circuit.
4. He Is Ranked No. 2 in the World
After winning his sixth consecutive hot dog eating contest in 2012 by eating 68 hot dogs, he stated, ″I will not stop until I reach 70. This ‘sport’ isn’t about eating. It’s about drive and dedication, and at the end of the day hot dog eating challenges both my body and my mind.″
In 2013, he downed 69 hot dogs, which is the highest of any competitor in the 100-year history of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Just two years later, however, Chestnut lost to Matt Stonie and had a difficult year all-around, losing his number one ranking in Major League Eating. He is currently ranked second, behind World No. 1 Stonie.
5. He Holds 42 World Eating Records
Chestnut holds 42 records for consuming stomach-churning quantities of food including, 7.61 pounds of chicken wings in 12 minutes, 141 hard boiled eggs in eight minutes, and 9.8 pounds of ribs in 12 minutes.
In May, he won the World Gyro Eating Championship over Stonie, setting a world record with 30 gyros in 10 minutes.
Chestnut set a new record for hot dogs on June 28, eating 73 1/2 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes at Washington, D.C.’s first-ever Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which took place at their annual barbecue battle.
However, the record at Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest is still 69.