On July 4, 2007, Chestnut won the 92nd Annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest held at New York City. Chestnut defeated six-time defending champion Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi by consuming a world record 66 hot dogs and buns (HDB) in 12 minutes, after losing to Kobayashi in 2005 and 2006. The following year, he successfully defended his title by winning a five hot dog eat-off after tying Kobayashi in consuming 59 HDB in ten minutes. On July 4, 2009, Chestnut beat Kobayashi again, by consuming a world record 68 HDB and winning his third consecutive title. On July 4, 2010, Chestnut took home his 4th consecutive Mustard Belt eating 54 HDB. The 2010 contest was a runaway victory, as Kobayashi did not compete due to a contract dispute with Major League Eating. On July 4, 2011, he won his fifth-consecutive championship with 62 HDB. 2012 marked his sixth consecutive win, when Chestnut tied his own world record from 2009 by devouring 68 HDB. In 2013, Chestnut captured his seventh straight title, eating a total of 69 HDB, breaking his previous world record. In 2014, Chestnut captured his eighth straight title eating a total of 61 HDB.
Chestnut lost the 2015 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest to Matt Stonie. On July 4, 2016, Chestnut regained the championship belt from Stonie by eating 70 hot dogs, 3.5 hot dogs short of his record-setting qualifying round. A year later on July 4, 2017, he raised the bar again by raising his record to 72 hot dogs; and again the following year to a world record of 74. In 2019, he secured a twelfth title with 71 HDB, but failed to beat his previous record. In 2020, he consumed 75 HDB, a world record for the contest. In 2021, he consumed 76 HDB, breaking his own world record for the contest. In 2022, in a return to the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, he consumed 63 Nathan's Famous HDB, his 15th championship, despite a ruptured tendon in his leg. On July 4, 2023, he captured his 16th title by eating 62 HDB.
Chestnut, a San Jose State University student, entered the competitive eating scene in 2005 with a break-out performance in the deep-fried asparagus eating championship, in which he beat high-ranked eater Rich LeFevre by eating 6.3 pounds (2.9 kg) of asparagus in 11.5 minutes. That same year, during Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, he ate 32 HDB, placing third behind Takeru Kobayashi and Sonya Thomas.
On October 22, 2005, Chestnut set a new world record for downing 32.5 grilled cheese sandwiches in ten minutes at the Arizona State Fair, as part of the GoldenPalace.net World Grilled Cheese Eating Championship circuit.
Chestnut defeated Thomas in the Waffle House World Waffle Eating Championship and placed second to Kobayashi in a Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship qualifier, eating 56 Krystal Burgers in eight minutes to his 67. He later beat him by eating 91 hamburgers in the finals, finishing second to the 97 hamburgers consumed by Kobayashi.
Chestnut qualified for the 2006 Nathan's Contest by eating 50 HDB. As July 4 approached, there was speculation that 2006 might be the year when Kobayashi would be beaten. It was not to be, however. Although Chestnut turned in a great performance, leading Takeru Kobayashi through most of the contest, the final tally put Chestnut at 52 and Kobayashi at 53+3⁄4 (a new world record). Chestnut lost to Kobayashi in the Johnsonville World Bratwurst Eating Championship in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He ate 45 bratwurst sausages in ten minutes. Kobayashi ate 58.
Chestnut was seen on a YouTube video drinking a gallon of milk in 41 seconds.
On July 4, 2007, Chestnut and Kobayashi battled the field in a record-setting hot dog eating battle in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Chestnut knocked off Kobayashi 66–63, leading to the latter's first defeat in the contest in six years.
Chestnut set two new world records in 2008. On February 1, he ate 241 wings in 30 minutes at the Wing Bowl XVI in Philadelphia. This record was broken by Takeru Kobayashi at the Wing Bowl XX in 2011 with 337 wings.
On March 2, 2008, he ate 78 matzo balls during Kenny & Ziggy's World Matzoh Ball Eating Championship in Houston, Texas.
On March 24, 2008, Chestnut set a new male record at The Big Texan Steak Ranch restaurant in Amarillo, Texas, by eating a meal of 4.5 lb (2.04 kg) ribeye steak, salad, baked potato, shrimp cocktail, and roll in just eight minutes and 52 seconds. Shortly afterwards, on his show on KKLA, previous record holder Frank Pastore congratulated Chestnut. (The overall human record is 4 minutes and 18 seconds, set by Molly Schuyler on April 19, 2015, on her first of three meals.)
On June 21, 2008, Chestnut lost to Takeru Kobayashi in a Pizza Hut P'Zone competition at Sony Studios in Culver City, California. The competition aired on Spike TV on June 21.
On July 4, 2008, Chestnut tied Takeru Kobayashi in the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Contest after eating 59 HDB in ten minutes. The tie resulted in a 5 HDB eat-off, which Chestnut won by consuming all five HDBs before Kobayashi. The 59 is a new record in the competition based on the reduction from 12 minutes to ten minutes. Chestnut weighed in at 102 kg (225 lb).
On July 28, 2008, Chestnut lost to Takeru Kobayashi in Chicken Satay eating in the MLE Asia inaugural event. He consumed just over 4 kilograms (8.8 lb) to Kobayashi's almost 5.5 kg (12 lb).
On August 23, 2008, Chestnut defeated IFOCE's second highest-ranked competitive eater Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti in the second Gyoza Eating Championship in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California. He devoured 231 gyoza, setting a new world record; he beat his previous record of 212, set at the inaugural event in 2006 when he narrowly defeated Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas (210). Thomas did not attend the 2008 event due to budgetary and travel costs.
On October 12, 2008, he consumed 45 slices of pizza, winning the "Famous Famiglia World Pizza Eating Championship", which was held in Times Square in New York. This was beaten by Bertoletti with 47 slices a few weeks later.
On February 21, 2009, Chestnut consumed 10.5 lb (4.8 kg) of macaroni and cheese in seven minutes during halftime at the San Jose Stealthlacrosse game, beating out his contestants and adding another world record to his name.
On July 4, 2009, Chestnut topped his previous record of 59 HDB by consuming 68 HDB in the 2009 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
On September 27, 2009, Chestnut lost to Takeru Kobayashi in Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship. He ate 81 hamburgers. Kobayashi ate 93.
On Man v. Food in San Jose, California, Chestnut ate Iguana's Burritozilla: a five lb (2.3 kg), 17-inch burrito in three minutes, ten seconds.
On May 8, 2010, Chestnut won Shrimp Wontons eating in Singapore. Chestnut ate 380 wontons in eight minutes to set a new world record.
On July 4, 2010, Chestnut secured his fourth straight Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest, by consuming 54 HDB in what he described himself as a disappointing performance.
On September 25, 2010, at the Phantom Gourmet Food Fest in Boston, Massachusetts, Chestnut won the Upper Crust Pizza Eating competition by eating 37 slices in ten minutes. He beat Bob Shoudt by one slice.
On July 4, 2011, Chestnut secured his fifth straight Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest, by consuming 62 HDB. Kobayashi, who could not participate in the contest because of his refusal to sign the required contract, ate 69 HDB at an off-site event with independent judges to establish a new world record.
On March 17, 2012, Chestnut set a new world record by eating 20 zero point five pounds (0.23 kg) corned beef sandwiches in ten minutes at the annual Toojay's Corned Beef Eating Competition in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti finished in second place.
On July 4, 2012, Chestnut successfully defended his title at Nathan's 97th Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. He tied his own world record by swallowing 68 HDB in ten minutes, which earned him his 6th "mustard belt" for this competition.
On July 16, 2012, Chestnut made a guest appearance on the 12th episode of Hell's Kitchen season 10, in which he participated in a wing-eating competition against a few of the contestants. He ended up winning the contest and earned $500.
On August 27, 2012, Chestnut cursed at Hofmann Hot dog and Kobayashi, stating in a Twitter post, "Congrats to @FReeKobio704 for eating a bunch of nasty Hoffman crap dogs. He needed an ego boost after three years of dodging competition."
On July 4, 2013, Chestnut successfully defended his title at Nathan's 98th Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. He beat his own world record of 68 by consuming 69 HDB in ten minutes, which earned him his 7th Mustard Belt for this competition.
On July 25, 2013, Chestnut ate 179 wings in ten minutes taking the title for the second year in a row at the Hooters World Wing-Eating Championship held in Clearwater, Florida.
On September 22, 2013, Chestnut ate 70 bratwursts to set the world record and take his fourth straight title, at the Hillshire Farm Bratwurst Eating World Championship held at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio.
On July 4, 2014, Chestnut ate more hot dogs and buns than any of his opponents, narrowly defeating competitor Matt Stonie. He successfully ate 61 hot dogs and buns to Stonie's 56, making this his eighth consecutive win. Prior to the event, Chestnut proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Neslie Ricasa.
On July 4, 2015, Chestnut was defeated by Stonie. He successfully ate 60 hot dogs and buns, but Stonie improved since 2014 and consumed 62 hot dogs and buns, ending Chestnut's eight-year run as champion.
After a Denver Outlaws lacrosse game on May 24, Chestnut set a World Record eating 14.25lbs of Illegal Pete's Burritos in 10 minutes, beating the previous record of 11.81 set in 2007 by Tim "Eater X" Janus.
On July 4, 2016, Chestnut redeemed himself with 70 hot dogs and buns with Stonie behind with 53 hot dogs and buns. On September 4, 2016, he won his third consecutive title at the United States Chicken Wing Eating Championships in Buffalo, New York, by eating 188 wings in 12 minutes.
On July 4, 2017, Chestnut defended his title and ate 72 hot dogs and buns. This was his 10th title and once again set a new Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest record. Carmen Cincotti was the closest competitor with 60.
In 2018, Chestnut competed in The Amazing Race 30 alongside fellow competitive eater Tim Janus. On July 4, Chestnut won his 11th title at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest with a new record of 74 hot dogs and buns.
On July 4, 2019, Chestnut won his 12th title at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, eating 71 hot dogs and buns.
On October 19, 2019, Chestnut won the 2019 World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, Canada, after eating 28 pounds of poutine in 10 minutes and set a new world record.
On July 4, 2020, Chestnut won his 13th title at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, eating a record-breaking 75 hot dogs and buns in ten minutes. The event was held indoors, with fewer competitors and without spectators, due to COVID-19.
On August 1, 2020, Chestnut ate nine pounds (4.1 kg) of pizza in 32 minutes and 14 seconds in a MrBeast YouTube video in Greenville, North Carolina.
On July 4, 2021, Chestnut won his 14th title at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, eating 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, a new record.
On October 10, 2021, Chestnut won The 2021 Destination Outlets World Pumpkin Pie Eating Championship in Jeffersonville, Ohio, consuming 16 lbs 12 oz of pumpkin pie in 8 minutes.
On July 4, 2022, Chestnut captured his 15th Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest title by eating 63 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The contest was interrupted by a protestor, whom Chestnut placed in a chokehold.
On April 6, 2023 (National Burrito Day), Chestnut won the first-ever Qdoba World Burrito Eating Championship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, consuming 14.5 burritos in 10 minutes.
On July 4, 2023, Chestnut consumed 62 hot dogs and won his 16th Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest title. The contest was nearly canceled due to thunderstorms, but ended up starting after a 2-hour delay. Chestnut reportedly played a “significant role” in reversing the previously announced decision to cancel.
Chestnut trains by fasting and by stretching his stomach with milk, water and protein supplements. Since the start of his competitive eating career, his competition weight has varied from 225–240 pounds (102–109 kg). 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."
He says he trains for hot dog eating competitions by cooking hot dogs at his house and then eating them in a simulated competition style. He starts with 40 hot dogs and then works his way up until he is in game shape. He compared it to running or lifting weights for other athletes.
He proposed to his longtime girlfriend Neslie Ricasa just before defending his title in the 2014 Nathan's competition. The couple split up in early 2015, prior to their scheduled wedding date. Chestnut resides in Westfield, Indiana.
San Pedro Fish Market shrimp: 7 lb (3.2 kg) of shrimp in eight minutes (San Pedro, California, on May 28, 2018) at The San Pedro Fish Market World Famous Shrimp Eating Championship presented by The Kings of Fi$h on the USS Iowa
Shrimp cocktail: 18 lb 9.6 oz (8.44 kg) of St. Elmo shrimp cocktail in eight minutes (Indianapolis, Indiana, on December 1, 2018) at The World Famous St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail Eating Championship
^ abcDickie, George (July 4, 2022). "Chestnut Goes for 14th Title in Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest". The Miami Herald. p. 9T. FULL NAME: Joseph Christian Chestnut; BIRTH DATE: Nov. 25, 1983; BIRTHPLACE: Fulton Co., Ken.