It’s too early to tell if the annual hot dog eating competition will be canceled, but the world champion is staying prepared.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 03, 2020
Advertisement

From Major League Baseball’s opening day to the now-2021 Olympics in Tokyo, athletic competitions have been canceled or postponed around the globe. Depending on how long the COVID-19 pandemic lasts, that may include the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4. But just in case, perennial champion Joey Chestnut is still preparing in isolation … and he’s even down for a possible stay-at-home hot dog binge if that’s what it comes down to.

TMZ Sports—apparently the only sports site worried about the coronavirus’s effect on the Major League Eating (MLE) season—recently caught up with Chestnut in a four-minute video interview. The 12-time Nathan’s champion (he's won every contest except 2015 dating back to 2007) and world record holder was asked how he’s staying ready to compete while he’s stuck at home in San Jose.

Debra L Rothenberg / Getty Images

“It’s kind of easy,” he answered. “I just do a normal once a week cheat day. So I try to eat healthy during the week, and once a week, I do a big massive stretch [of the stomach] with whatever I can. Last weekend, I did eight pounds of cucumbers. I’m trying to maintain a healthy diet, but I still love to do a big cheat day once a week. It’s not like a team sport…. I feel like I'll be ready when contests start.”

The event is always on July 4, so at this point, Chestnut says “nobody knows” about the status of the world’s best-known eating competition. (TMZ reached out to MLE, which runs the event, and they said they’re still monitoring the situation.) “There’s so many things being canceled, I wouldn’t be surprised if the contest was canceled. But Fourth of July is still going to happen.”

With that in mind, when asked, Chestnut said that an event without fans wouldn’t be off the table for him. “I think even if there isn’t a huge crowd, I know people are watching,” he said. “It would suck not to do it in front of a huge crowd, but there'd still be people watching and I'll still be able to make people happy, I guess. And, I'd push myself to a ridiculous limit.” That said, he also reportedly clarified to TMZ that he wouldn’t do it without proper medical staff—which could add an additional barrier to the plan.

Regardless, Chestnut said that, for Nathan’s, the hot dog contest is probably the last thing on their minds right now. “They're donating tons of hot dogs and making sure the people in their community are being taken care of,” he told TMZ,” so they’re not really worried about an eating contest right now.”