Win or lose, Joey Chestnut says Friday's Wing Bowl will be his last. The two-time champion told us exclusively Monday of his plans to retire from Wing Bowl as a competitor, but the 24-year-old says he hopes to return next year to cheer on someone else. "It's the biggest competitive eating party around," Chestnut says. "Maybe I'll be in someone's entourage," Chestnut tells us.
The San Jose State civil engineering major says his rigorous competitive eating schedule interferes with his studies. He also blames the sport and constantly being away from home for the recent breakup with his girlfriend of two years.
Chestnut isn't sure whether he will defend his Mustard Yellow Belt July 4 at Coney Island, N.Y., in Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog contest. Last year he defeated Japan's Takeru Kobayashi, bringing the title back to the United States.
"I don't know what my place in competitive eating is after this Wing Bowl. I really just want to have fun with it. Last year there was quite a bit of pressure. Wing Bowl, Nathan's and the big ones require months of training," he says. "A lot of work goes into it." Chestnut says he still thinks the sport is fun and plans to continue to at least compete in smaller contests.
Chestnut has a little entourage of family and friends and says he's confident that his performance will shine though he's "not expecting fans or judges to be on my side."
Chestnut gets to town tomorrow morning, but says he probably won't eat anything between last night and the 6 a.m. Friday contest. How does he survive? "I drink lots of liquid protein supplements," he tells us.