When you talk about the world's most dominant athletes, almost no one would mention Joey Chestnut. However, within the confines of the sport of competitive eating, Chestnut is a legend.
"I've figured out how to push my body to the absolute limit," said the seven-time champion of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, according to Newsday's Sheila Anne Feeney.
That's an understatement. Chestnut owns several records beyond his link-guzzling accomplishments. He is clearly the man to beat when it comes to the annual July 4 contest at Coney Island.
Early in his career, he worked to overtake legendary competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi. The two engaged in a major rivalry from 2006-08, but Chestnut finally broke through in 2007. Now he's the man with the target on his back.
Adam Felder of The Atlantic said: "Chestnut’s reign is remarkable. Even more remarkable is that he’s about to win his eighth straight contest, and at age 30, shows no sign of slowing down—indeed, if last year is any indication, he may not have reached his peak."
In 2013, Chestnut smashed 69 franks en route to the title. Can anyone beat him? Here's a look at the biggest threats to Chestnut's title.
Known as "Deep Dish," the native of Chicago is an accomplished eater.
He has finished as high as second place in the Nathan's contest, but he hasn't quite been able to get over the hump.
Recently, he made this YouTube video of himself drinking 2.5 gallons of chocolate milk in three minutes. (Some NSFW language and art on the wall behind him.)
If this feat can be called momentum, Bertoletti might actually have the guts—pun totally intended—to overtake Chestnut.
Matt 'Megaload' Stonie
Aside from Chestnut, Stonie is the only other competitor even listed by name, according to Odds Shark. Though he's far behind Chestnut on the odds list, Stonie is a respectable threat at 9-1 odds.
At only 22 years old, Stonie is the up-and-comer fans need to watch now and in the future. He's already shown himself to be a formidable threat in other eating contests.
Robert Silverman of Vice says that Stonie and Chestnut could evolve into the next great rivalry in the sport.
A big-time performance at Coney Island could make Stonie the Chestnut to the champion's Kobayashi. On Friday, we'll find out who has the stomach to win it all.
Prediction: Joey Chestnut
Stonie is going to push Chestnut more than people realize, but in the end, the champion will extend his run to a Rafael Nadal at Roalnd Garros-like eight in a row.