San Jose Should Disown Joey Chestnut

Hard to believe that the Mercury News would provide space on its front page (let alone any page) to cover the annual spectacle that is the Nathan’s hot-dog eating contest.  Why would anyone have even the slightest interest in such an exhibition of gluttony?  Unfortunately for us, San Jose gets its name attached to the madness, as the “winner” of the event, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, lives in San Jose.  Why would anyone celebrate this guy?  Is there any way that we can distance ourselves from Mr. Chestnut?

In his front page story that ran on the Fourth of July, sportswriter Mark Purdy wrote, “I have no bones about this: Chestnut is my favorite Bay Area sports personality—unless you believe that competitive eating is not technically a sport.”  I hope that Mark Purdy is kidding.  I’m not sure that he is.  Competitive eating is certainly not a sport…it’s an obscenity.

Purdy goes on:  “In many ways, [Chestnut] is not unlike other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who found a niche, developed a strategy to exploit the niche, then prospered.”  Please.

But Purdy’s front page story does provide us with some valuable information. He reports that Chestnut grew up in the City of Vallejo. This is news we can use. Let’s give Joey Chestnut back to Vallejo! From here on out, refer to Joey Chestnut in press and public as, “The Pride of Vallejo.”  “The Pride of Vallejo” sounds so much better than, “The Shame of San Jose!”


  1. KGO interviewed this guy ( I forget his name) the other day who is the chairman of Major League Eating, the primary “sanctioning body: of this “sport”.  Most of the interview was this guy defedning his position that this was a sport.  he talked about what great “athletes” these eaters are.  he ducked the question re whether they just puke all those dogs up after the contest is over.  You’ll be pleased to know, Pete, that Joey “trains” by alternating fasting with binge eating.  Sounds like an offshoot of Karen Carpenter Disease to me. 

    Champion eaters can “earn” $150k+/year.

    • Steve:
      I think that it’s more than a waste of time…I think that it’s an obscenity, and an “Exhibit A” for those who think our society has its priorities misplaced.  I also think that it demonstrates (yet again) how disconnected the Mercury News is from the people of San Jose.

      About a month ago, I lobbied the Mercury News to cover a Walk-A-Thon for Autism at San Jose’s History Park.  (To my knowledge, there was zero coverage).  I understand that the paper cannot be all things to all people…but I ask you…which is more important, covering a hot-dog eating contest, or providing in-depth coverage of a disease that is growing exponentially?

      • I’m with Steve.  Sorry this got your panties in a bunch, Pete.  Joey Chestnut is a local celebrity and celebrities sell papers.  By complaining you’re only drawing attention to the guy.

        Personally, in a city as unknown as ours I think it’s kind of fun to tell people we’re the home of Joey Chestnut.  It’s always worth a laugh.

        You seem a little tightly wound, Pete.  Maybe you should try laughing some more.

        • I think your writing is an empty casing filled with much bad meat.

          Ps, I live in Oakland, if you want to do anything about it.  Knowing you,I am sure you would not be seen here in this part of town without your personal trainer.

        • “Ps, I live in Oakland, if you want to do anything about it.”  Sounds like your attitude fits your residence location.

          Were you out there looting The Foot Lockaer store last week, as well?

        • I agree with your email about Joey and his many talents.  He has also been on other popular eating shows like Man vs. Food.  The hot dog eating contest has grown from a local event to a Global Fourth of July Party.  All of from San Jose should be proud to have the great Joey Chesnut participate and bring San Jose to greater heights.
          Unfortunately there are a select few who cannot understand what this event is and take it only for that.  This is entertainment that takes us away from the grind of living in this era.  This year’s event was very dramatic and announcing the competition just made the day.  This country definitely has many eating issues as a lot of our people are overweight.  Watching Joey suck down 60 dogs has nothing to do with the obesity problems in this country.  Just one hour out of 24 that day to let our minds rest and have a good laugh.
          Who is Pete Campbell anyway!!!  Obviously he is not in the same class as the world famous Joey Chesnut.
          What does a charity event have to do with eating hot dogs!!  Maybe Mark should invite this guy to the Tour de French Fry and enlighten him.


        • I agree with Why so serious? Calling competitive eating an “obscenity” is more than a little exaggerated. Pointless perhaps, but not obscene in the slightest. Such exaggeration only subtracts any credibility Pete Campbell might have on other issues. Give it a rest, Pete!

        • Steve:
          Definiton of “obscene”= “offensive to morality or decency,” and, “disgusting; repulsive.”
          Obscenity is the perfect word choice to express my opinion on the matter. 
          If the held the event on a day other than the 4th of July, I wouldn’t be so teed off about it.

        • Without defending the concept of competitive, I can assure that it does not offend my morality or decency. And while it might not be your cup of tea, “disgusting and repulsive” is more aptly appropriate to a vomiting contest.

  2. Can’t rag on competitive eating. We consider those play golf “athletes” yet they walk around and hit a ball into a hole. But the game is difficult.

    And it is also difficult to eat 60 hot dogs in a short amount of time. Therefore, sport.

    • Professional level Golf, and choking down five dozen hot dogs, are both activities most people would find difficult, yes, but they are not equivalent.  Golf takes enormous skill, and requires the development of many of the same faculties as other forms of athletic endeavor (with obviously less emphasis on speed, endurance & stamina).  Competitive eating is more like a form of non-sexual prostitution, akin to one child paying another to touch his tongue to the underside of a garden snail.

      I agree with Mr. Campbell that its an embarrassment this Chestnut character resides in San Jose, and I really don’t see why a local paper should be devoting front page coverage to a hot dog-eating contest being held in New York City.

    • A year later, but I’ll still responde to this!! Anyone who doesn’t think golf is a sport has obviously never serious played competitively! Watch a child begin playing around age 10 fall in love with the game. Watch them play 54 – 72 holes a day because they want to. Watch them as they go through a top-ranked high school program in which they work out seriously with weight training, running, etc. Watch them as they make to the next competitive level – college!! On average the walk on the golf course is 4 miles – no carts, ever. If they play more than one round these kids can walk upwards of ten miles in a day, and they carry their own bags. Watch your child do all that and then tell me golf isn’t a sport!!!

  3. Well, if we’re going to start calling out and disowning annoying or inadequate persons, lets be systematic:

    1. Al Gore

    2. The Tech Museum for absurdly awarding a “Humanitarian Award” to the giggling crazed sex poodle

    3. Cindy Chavez

    4. Joe DiSalvo

    5. Nancy Pyle

    6. Nora Campos

    7 – 999. Losers, phonies, parasites, and sociopaths to be named later.

  4. “Competitive Eating” might be a waste of time. It most certainly NOT a sport. But this stupid post is way over the top: If you don’t like it, ignore it. The hot dog eating contest isn’t hurting non-participants. With all of the problems in the world today, why make a mountain out of the molehill of competitive eating?

    • Is posting one critical article on a local interest blog really “mak[ing] a mountain out of [a] molehill?”

      There are LOTS of things in this society that are eminently worthy of criticism (and most of them aren’t subjected to it), but we shouldn’t let ALL the small things slide, merely because there are also bigger fish to fry.

      • Yes, Pete’s making a mountain out of a molehill.

        The city’s broke.
        The state’s broke.
        The feds are broke.

        With the economy going to hell in a hand basket, why should Pete get a bug up his ass about Joey Chestnut sucking down wieners?

  5. Hard to believe San Jose State considers Joey a distinguished alumnus
    when they rejected two women who worked for two different presidents. Shows you where Pat Harries lies especially after a few brews.

  6. I propose SJI add Joey Chestnut to the blog lineup. 

    We can then compare/contrast how Joey feels after a contest with how we feel after DiSalvo’s weekly.

    We can and must make better pepto bismol!

  7. Pete,

    Oh my gosh, did you run out of meds?!  Calm down – the Merc lives and dies on readership and advertising.  If enough people agree with you, the Merc will soon be toast.  Otherwise, if you feel so strongly, pay for a Merc ad and speak your peace to the readers.

  8. In his book, “Horsemen of the Esophagus” Jason Fagone wrote that “Competitive eating is a hairball coughed up by the American id.”  While I don’t get exercised by these disgusting events, the fact that there is an audience for these events calls into question the future of civilized life in America.  But hell, so do lots of other things.

  9. Maybe Pete C went to the weiner market and saw the usual multi pounds he is used to consuming was running low.  Maybe he should keep his mouth stuffed more as he seems to attack quite a few popular people in the valley. It keeps his name in the MURKY NEWS.  Publicity Hound!

  10. The people of San Jose are an embarrassment to city of San Jose.  They don’t patronize downtown SJ, reject convention center expansion at no cost, disown Joey Chestnut, obsessed with suburban culture and have self-inferiority complex with the city.

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