Take the Poll: Is Champ Eater Joey Chestnut a Real Athlete?
It's something that morning show producer Rueben Wright and I have argued about for more than a few days. An to be perfectly honest, I was stunned that someone as relatively intelligent as he could even make the argument...that competitive eater Joey Chestnut is a real athlete.
Just a few days ago, at the annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Chestnut cemented his claim as the greatest competitive eater of all time, setting the record for tube sausage consumption, wolfing down an astonishing 75 franks in only ten minutes. But, seriously, is that really athletic?
Absolutely, Rueben claimed, then explaining Chestnut's strict training regimen, stretching his stomach pre-event by consuming gallons of water or wolfing down an entire head of lettuce. In fact - and we'd both heard this one - rumors persist that competitive eaters at the highest level will actually gobble down spoonfuls of Vaseline, lubricating their throats to make swallowing those barely chewed easier!
But an athlete? Like Michael Jordan? Or Patrick Mahomes? Or Tiger Woods? And then I saw this from usatoday.com:
"Chestnut's 13th Mustard Yellow Belt prompted ESPN to show the 36-year-old's feat side-by-side with other athletes who have won the same competition or title over the course of their careers. That list included Rafael Nadal's 12 French Open titles and Bill Russell's 11 NBA championship rings. One CBS Sports tweet showed a photo of Michael Jordan and Tom Brady's combined 12 championships being outdone by Chestnut's 13 hot dog titles."
And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the calumny continued:
"Yes, a man who gobbles down hot dogs at an annual event is being mentioned in the same stratosphere as arguably the greatest basketball and football players of all-time."
So, now you must help us decide! Give us your opinion. Take the poll. Is competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut - admittedly the GOAT in his game - actually an athlete?