By: Charles Schaechter  | 

Joey Chestnut, World Record-Breaking Competitive Eater, Speaks to YU Students

Editor's Note: A recording of the event can be found here, courtesy of Zachary Greenberg.

Joey Chestnut, a world record-breaking competitive eater, spoke to Yeshiva University students over Zoom on Monday, Nov. 23, in a Q&A event sponsored by the Yeshiva Student Union (YSU), the Yeshiva College Student Association (YSCA) and the Stern College for Women Student Council (SCWSC). 

According to his website, Chestnut is “the world’s greatest competitive eater” with the most competitive eating records — over 40 — in the world. The event was organized by Zachary Greenberg (SSSB ‘21), president of YSU, who also moderated along with Jared Benjamin (YC ‘21), YSU’s vice president of clubs. Chestnut answered questions submitted by students the day before, and  spoke about his unexpected career path and love for competitive eating. The winner of 13 annual hot dog eating contests, Chestnut attracted over 60 Zoom participants to the event. According to multiple student council sources familiar with the matter, the event cost $2,000 contributed by YSU, YSCA and SCWSC. 

During the event, Chestnut reflected on his career path. Chestnut told the audience of the first eating competition he won at the age of 21 after being signed up by his brother. He spoke of the great feeling of winning that competition and his hunger for more success.  “[My] first win in overtime solidified for me that I want to put more energy into it,” Chestnut said to students during the event. “If I didn’t get that little win in overtime I might never have been motivated to put energy into it to justify to keep pushing myself, but I got lucky.” 

Students asked Chestnut questions about how competitive eating affects his body, to which Chestnut responded that there are times where the food makes his stomach feel the effects of the large quantities he consumed up to a day and a half after a given event concluded. Speaking about the challenges of eating wet hot dog buns and his method, Chestnut emphasized the importance of having the right mindset. He told students, “I trained myself [to think that] it’s not a wet bun anymore, it’s a sip of water.”

Some students in attendance were impressed and enjoyed the opportunity to converse with the food-competing celebrity. “It was awesome to be in a zoom meeting with a world record holder, the legend Joey Chestnut, and to hear the secrets to his success” shared Sammy Lekowsky (SSSB ‘22). “The event was a great success with the students leaving the Zoom having met and learned from a record breaking athlete.” 

Greenberg expressed his interest in getting more celebrities for YSU events after having Chestnut. “I was super happy with how it went and Joey and I are now connected on LinkedIn!” Greenberg said. “Best event of the year for me! I hope we can have more events like this one and bring in even more celebrity speakers!” 

“It was such a blast,” Benjamin said. “Joey is awesome and he was so friendly and passionate about what he does, it was great talking to him. Also I’m glad he could finally answer the question of is a hot dog a sandwich? That was something I think everyone wanted to know.” Chestnut maintained that a hot dog is not a sandwich and expressed surprise that the question was raised in the first place.

Photo Caption: Chestnut holds over 40 competitive eating records in the world.
Photo Credit: Zachary Greenberg