How does Joey Chestnut down so many hot dogs?

Fri, Jul 1

Four-time champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, in preparation for Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Monday in Coney Island, N.Y., planned to eat 40 hot dogs Thursday night.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, that will be his last real meal before the competition. And what a way to go.

On Friday, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Chestnut won't eat. He'll let his body digest those dogs and buns. On Saturday, he'll drink a protein shake. On Sunday, he'll -- maybe -- drink some water.

Then it's contest day. His biggest competitors will be Tim "Eater X" Janus, who qualified by eating 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes, and Pat Bertoletti, who qualified with a mark of 38.

To be honest, they probably don't stand a chance. Chestnut set the record in 2009 by downing 68 in the allotted 10 minutes. In 2010, he won by consuming only 54.

"I admit it. I coasted a little last year. When I saw no one was close, I slowed down a little to make sure the dogs would stay down," Chestnut said. "I can't tell you all my secrets to how I can eat so many. Someone out there might copy it. But I will tell you this: The night before the competition, I sleep only four hours. That means when I actually do eat, my stomach will want to digest the food quicker."

Chestnut, who works as a construction engineer in San Jose, Calif., started eating competitively in 2005 when his younger brother, Willy Chestnut, talked him into it. (As an aside, Chestnut has never lost a competition when his brother shows up, and Willy arrives in New York on Saturday.) That first contest victory was eating deep-fried asparagus, and Joey Chestnut downed about six pounds in 11 minutes in Stockton, Calif.

Since, then he's racked up a lot of world records and titles:

• 103 Krystal burgers in eight minutes

• 7.5 pounds of buffalo chicken wings in 12 minutes

• 118 jalapeno poppers in 10 minutes

• 78 matzoh balls in eight minutes

• 9.8 pounds of pork rib meat in 12 minutes

And Chestnut rarely gets sick.

"Two reasons: If I'm not hydrated enough, and I hear Monday should be a hot one at the contest. And if I'm not familiar with the food, like crab cakes," Chestnut said. "This is hot dogs! I know it looks gross when I do it, but I'm ready."

Page 2 will be setting up the big battle on Monday, including Chestnut's views on past champ Takeru Kobayashi, this weekend, and ESPN3 will be streaming Monday's contest and have exclusive coverage of the inaugural women's championship.