The more Joey Chestnut eats, the more his popularity grows. While Chestnut saw his individual notoriety ascend with his record-breaking, hot-dog-and-bun-eating performance on Thursday at the 2013 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, he's also garnering tons of attention for the sport of competitive eating.
You may or may not have known that eating for a living is considered a sport. The competitions even have their own governing body. It is called the International Federation of Competive Eating—IFOCE to those in the know.
These types of facts are the tidbits you pick up as you try to figure out just who Chestnut really is. The 29-year-old from Vallejo, Calif. seems like just a regular guy—sans the fact that he can eat a lot of food in a short period of time.
By guzzling down 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, Chestnut not only set a world record and won his seventh mustard belt as the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating champ, he continues to introduce himself and others to his claim to fame.
Sports fans are captivated by streaks of sustained success. With seven straight titles, Chestnut's relevance to fans and members of more conventional sports societies will begin to take notice.
ESPN's Doug Gottlieb was just one person seemingly captivated by the spectacle of the event and Chestnut's feat. He tweeted:
For some, the contest is like a guilty pleasure. It's something they find repulsive, but for some strange reason they too can't turn away. No matter what facial expression those watching the event on ESPN Thursday afternoon wore, those folks were watching nonetheless.
When the public is tuned in, that means folks in the media are writing and analyzing. In an article published in Forbes Magazine on Thursday, Dan Diamond brings up some concerns Chestnut and other competitive eaters should have about their profession.
Diamond also breaks down why such an unorthodox sport with such unconventional athletes could be compelling. Diamond writes:
Chestnut is 6 feet tall and weighs about 220 pounds. Bryce Harper or LeBron James, he is not. And the nature of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest—held on a national holiday, televised on ESPN, with average-looking guys being treated like heavyweight champions—seems like wish fulfillment in a way that other professional sports, with their celestially gifted athletes, have ceased to be.
Chestnut's everyman qualities give him an identity that people associate with the event. Thereby, in many ways making himself and the contest more relatable on some levels.
Needless to say, as long as there is interest, the sport will have a place on a network, and Chestnut is the face of the game.
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