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Did you chow down on some amazing food this year for the Fourth of July celebration? I bet you didn’t drop the hammer on some beef and buns like Joey Chestnut. Chestnut is a world record-holding competitive eater, specializing in hot dogs. This goes beyond munchies, this is gastrointestinal power lifting.

A force to be reckoned with

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Nathan’s hot dog eating contest has thrilled audiences from its battleground in Coney Island, New York for a century. What began as a simple showdown has become the center of an international battle royale. In this field of honor, a few names ring loud enough for the world to hear. Joey Chestnut comes in at the top of that short list.

He smashed his own world record and defeated last year’s champion to regain the mustard yellow belt for his ninth win.

Started from the bottom now he here

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Most of the world hadn’t paid more than a passing glance at the contest at Nathan’s over the years until one man changed the face of competitive eating. Takeru Kobayashi isn’t a hefty man. Instead, he is a finely tuned machine of advanced eating techniques. Until he joined and won the competition in 2001, the highest timed total stood at just over 25 hot dogs and buns.

When Kobayashi came in, he smashed the world record with 50 in 12 minutes. He reigned through 2006 where he beat his world record, eating 53 3/4. But in 2007, American Joey Chestnut broke the world record at the qualifier event with 59.5 and went on to beat Kobayashi with a final score of 66.

The bad boys of beef and buns

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Joey won eight straight years in a row, until being dethroned by Matt Stonie last year. Kobayashi hasn’t competed since 2009, after refusing to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, the sanctioning body of the contest. In 2010, he jumped on the stage and tried to interrupt the contest. In 2011, Kobayashi tried to upstage Chestnut from the sidelines with his own eating

In 2011, Kobayashi tried to upstage Chestnut from the sidelines with his own eating exhibition and claimed to eat 69 hot dogs, 7 more than Joey that year.

With this 2016 victory, Joey has sealed his unquestioning victory over Kobayashi’s ghost and pushed the world record higher than ever before. The most hot dogs ever eaten at the contest goes to a 1967 untimed champion by the name of Walter Paul. The 400-pound, 32-year-old truck driver managed to polish off 127 hot dogs in one hour flat. Soon after, time limits were imposed on the contest.

This year’s top hot dogs

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Chestnut says that the defeat last year revitalized his dedication, and showed him the hubris of his ways. He thanks Mike Stonie for helping him find his fire again.

It’s his fault. He beat me last year and awoke the sleeping giant. He made me go back to the drawing board and relearn my body. And I did it, and I’m happy.

So what does eating a lot of hot dogs get you? Well in Chestnut’s case, he walked away with the first-place prize of $10,000. Second place Mike Stonie earned a well deserved $5,000, and third and fourth places walked off with $2,500 and $1,500 respectively.

Women show their stuff as well

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This contest isn’t just for men. Until recently, both genders competed in a single competition, and men predominantly won. However, in 2011, the contest opened a separate event exclusively for women, and Sonya Thomas tucked away 40 dogs to claim the pink belt and $10,000. This year she was defeated by Miki Sudo, 38 dogs to 34.

So if you think you have the guts and the gusto to go gladiator in gastrointestinal games, then get to training. You only have 11.5 months until you have to head to Coney island for the 2017 competition!

Could or would you ever try to win an eating competition? What is your personal claim to fame? Share with us on social media or in the comments below.

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