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National competitive eating icon wins Oktoberfest bratwurst-eating championship

oktoberfest zinzinnati 2021 brat eating
Posted at 4:41 PM, Sep 19, 2021

He's the face of competitive eating nationwide and this weekend he returned to the Queen City to chow down like never before.

Joey "Jaws" Chestnut won Oktoberfest Zinzinnati’s brat-eating contest Sunday afternoon. He had hoped to break his record of eating 70 brats in 10 minutes, but instead took the win with 68 bratwurst. Second place managed to down 66.

Chestnut is one of the best at what he does: Putting away hot dog after hot dog, brat after brat, pushing his body to the limit and breaking his own world records.

"Zinzinnati is one of the best celebrations there is,” Chestnut said. "I'm excited this year. Excited to be back in Cincinnati competing. It's going to be a good time."

Chestnut was always known by friends and family as an enthusiastic eater, but it took some encouragement to get him in front of an audience.

"I was kind of ashamed of it,” he said. "It was something I didn't let everybody know. My little brother wanted me to go to a contest and I was like, uh, kind of shy."

But Chestnut found he can stomach the nerves once he’s in the spotlight.

"As soon as I got on stage, I realized, 'Oh my gosh. I was made for this,'" he said.

The competitive eater has gobbled up countless wins over the years and is now ranked first in the world by major league eating.

"Eventually the eating contest became bigger than I ever imagined,” he said. “Now I get to travel around the world and eat. I really believe I have the best job in the world and I love it."

But for the past year and a half, many of the appearances he's known for, including Zinzinnati, were put on hold.

"I missed it. I love to travel. I love to go to these festivals to see people who are enthusiastic about eating and celebrating,” he said.

With events returning and spirits rising, Chestnut's strategy for doing his job could serve us all.

"I try to find my happy place and keep pushing," he said.