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The champ gets chomping

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted July 04, 2013
joey jaws chestnut interview
Superscoffer: Jaws (right) and a man with a fish on his T-shirt. © Joey Chestnut

With the 2013 Nathan's Final just hours away, Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut talks to the R&H.

In case you didn't know it, the 2013 Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest is bearing down on the planet like a gigantic alien spaceship about to liberate a beleaguered bunch of hacks holed up in a crummy office, fending off wave after wave of armed cops hell bent on nicking their loudmouth fashion editor, London cabbie and self-appointed competitive eating pundit for kidnapping a corrupt nurse who tried to blackmail the online rag's beautiful editorial assistant for accidentally killing a two-foot-tall hitman with a poisoned pie.

Sound familiar?

It should do.

I'm talking about the current predicament facing the Rake & Herald editorial team right this very minute.

But enough about us, what about superhuman superstar superscoffer Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut, who in a matter of hours is about to step onto the hallowed Nathan's stage on the corner of Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island, Noi Yoik in a bid to win the coveted Mustard Belt for a unprecedented seventh year in a row?

"I feel great about this year's contest," Jaws exclusively tells the Rake & Herald via that FaceBook thing.

"Preparation for this year's contest is similar to previous years."

"The only major difference was that when I started training for this year, I felt like the muscles in my throat, oesophagus and jaws were stronger than in previous years, possibly because I have competed in so many events this year."

So how did he feel about equalling his 2009 world record of 68 hot dogs and buns (HDBs) in 10 minutes at last year's final and does he think he can trump it today?

"I was lucky to have equalled the world record last year," Jaws says.

"I was eating slow the entire contest and I had to pick up the pace at the end."

"I will be doing everything I can to make a new record but that is a secondary goal."

"My main goal is always to win."


Clearly Jaws has a different concept of speed to us because when we watched the footage his scarfing looked well bloody fast throughout.

Mind you, we're certainly not going to argue with a man who's listed on the excellent Eat Feats database as having won more chowdowns and gobathons than we can even count.

But while he is undoubtedly the greatest hot dog dispatcher in the history of the Multiverse1, Jaws is certainly not limited to franks and buns alone.

After all, in just three weeks he will be making his way to Clearwater in Florida to defend his Hooters World Wing-Eating Championship crown, which he won at the event's inaugural 10-minute final last year with a belly-tastic fried fowl flapper engorgement of 144 formerly feathered flight appendages.

So how does he feel about that given that he will be up against a whole army of alimentary athletes whose ranks include such noted wing warriors as Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas, Adrian 'the Rabbit' Morgan, 'the Lovely' Juliet Lee and woman-to-watch Miki Sudo among others?

"The Hooters contest is going to be extremely tight," he says.

"Chicken wings can be anybody's game if they have the right technique."

"It's going to be exciting."

joey jaws chestnut lifts the mustard belt
And the winner is... Jaws lifts the Mustard Belt. © Joey Chestnut

One thing that Rake & Herald fashion editor, London cabbie, self-appointed competitive eating pundit and wanted armed criminal Kok Wang and myself often ponder when we're not trying to kill each other is what exactly it is that lies behind Jaws' phenomenal success rate.

Is it natural ability, hard work or, as Kok maintains, some kind of voodoo?

"I think a large part of my success is due to my support network," Jaws says, blowing Kok's voodoo theory right out the water.

Hear that, Kok?

You were wrong.

Plain wrong.


"My friends, family and girlfriend [fellow Nathan's finalist Neslie Ricasa] all support what I do and are there for me, no matter how crazy and weird competitive eating is," he continues.

"I have an awesome amount of support, more than other eaters, I think."

Well, he certainly has the support of the Rake & Herald, that's for sure.

We think he's flippin' amazing.

Actually, scrub that.

We know he's flippin' amazing.

After all, since the beginning of last year, Jaws has only lost four of the 25 competitions he's entered, the last two being asparagus to Matt 'Megatoad' Stonie and ribs to Miki, who will sadly not be at today's Nathan's final.

So how does the Major League Eating (MLE) number one view these two particular gurgitators?

"Matt and Miki are awesome eaters," Jaws states.

"Neither one has reached the limit of their ability and I'm excited to see them get better."

However, he adds, "I don't know if Matt will surpass the skill of [Patrick 'Deep Dish' Bertoletti]", whom Jaws describes as "an incredible natural eater".

"Miki is good, but Sonya has been doing this for a decade and I don't expect her to lie down."

"Sonya has been a champ for a while and she will get better if challenged."

"I would."

On the subject of Deep Dish, we here at Rake & Herald Towers were utterly gobsmacked when we discovered our all-time favourite unicorn enthusiast had left the MLE fold.

However, unlike Jaws, we had never pitted our teeth against him and neither was he ever touted as our nearest ruminatory rival, so how did his departure affect Jaws?

"I was as shocked as you guys," he reveals.

"I know he is working on some projects that would interfere with the Major League Eating agreement."

"I wish him the best of luck and hope he's able to rejoin the League down the road."

But what about Jaws' own plans?

There have been rumours on the interweb that he is thinking of retiring soon, with some even speculating that he will swap the alimentary limelight for a pipe and a pair of slippers this very year.

Is there any truth in all this or is it just load of hot air, the sort of old pony people like Kok spout when they've had too many Kestrels?

"I don't exactly know what the future holds for me," Jaws replies.

"I'm working on a couple things and I'm also having a lot of fun."

"I'm not ruling anything out."

And neither are we, sir, including 70+ HDBs before this day is done.

Big, big thanks indeed for talking with us, Jaws. All the best for Nathan's later today and indeed for everything you choose to do. It really is an honour to interview not just the greatest gurgitator alive, but the greatest gurgitator ever. The Rake & Herald salutes you!

See also Jaws wreaks revenge, posted 24/5/13.

To fully understand why there is a gigantic alien spaceship hurtling towards the Rake & Herald office, make sure you read Nathan's tomorrow, mind, posted 3/7/13.

Do you like our Sandi's scribblings? If so, why not befriend her on that FaceBook thing? We don't let her out much, see, preferring instead to shackle her to her desk inside an indestructible cage (it's actually a Perspex box with a couple of air holes stabbed into it with a chisel). As such, she's terribly lonely and unloved. Please find it in your heart to help her before her constant whining drives us to kill her with a sharpened curtain rod. Remember, Sandi's life is in YOUR hands so get 'friending', or whatever the trendy modern verb is. Please. She's just started crying again.


1) Admittedly, Takeru 'the Tsunami' Kobayashi might have something to say about that. In which case, up for an interview, Kobi?

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