Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest best bet, odds, preview and predictions: American hero Joey Chestnut takes center stage

Joey Chestnut
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Ricky Dimon


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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email
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Is there anything more American than the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4 – and watching American hero Joey Chestnut dominate it year after year? Short answer: no. Long answer: hell no. 

Chestnut and the rest of the hot-dog eaters will be back on the national stage to celebrate Independence Day in the only way they know how: by scarfing down as many ‘dogs as fast as humanly possible – or, in Chestnut’s case, inhumanly. It will be televised live on ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, and that is exactly the kind of treatment it deserves. After all, this is perhaps the greatest competition in the entire world of sports. If it’s not at the absolute top, then the only events it trails are the Super Bowl and the World Cup final. But, let’s be honest, it’s probably #1. Okay, I jest (sort of). Now it’s time to get serious.

You can bet on pretty much anything these days, and the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is no exception. Fortunately for American competitive eating fans, the prestigious Mustard Yellow International Belt is all but guaranteed to stay at home thanks to Chestnut. Unfortunately for bettors, there aren’t any real options on the outright market. To put it simply, Chestnut is going to win. There isn’t any doubt about that. If he doesn’t, it would be the biggest upset in sports history – bigger than the Miracle on Ice, bigger than Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson and bigger than Hickory over South Bend Central in Hoosiers. 

Of course, there isn’t any value on the Kentucky native as an overwhelming -4000 favorite – nor is there any value on the rest of the field as huge underdogs. Aside from the aberration that was 2015 (when Matt Stonie stunned Chestnut 62 to 60), nobody has been able to challenge the #1 ranked competitive eater on the planet since Takeru Kobayashi stopped competing in the contest in 2011. 

As such, we must look elsewhere for value bets. Let’s take a look. 

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Joey Chestnut under 72.5 hot dogs consumed (-110)

It’s never fun to fade Chestnut, but he can still win even without consuming more than 72.5 hot dogs. In fact, he will win. The only questions are: by how much and after eating how many?

Last year’s number was 74.5. I hammered the under and it cashed comfortably, as Chestnut only scarfed down 63 dogs. It should be noted that a protestor ran on stage in the middle of the competition, after which Chestnut put him in a chokehold. That interaction certainly didn’t help, but it also didn’t seriously hamper his progress. At most, it may have cost him a dog or 2. 

We can still root for Chestnut while also predicting him to finish under the number. That’s exactly what I’m doing here. The 39-year-old exceeded this quota in 2018, 2020 and 2021, but those are the only 3 times he has done it. That means Chestnut has surpassed 72.5 in just 1 trip to the hallowed grounds of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island, New York, where the competition returned in 2022 following a 2-year hiatus. It was held indoors in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic and in 2021 it took place amidst a limited capacity at Maimonides Park, a minor-league baseball stadium. Only in 2018, when he devoured 74, has Chestnut exceeded 72.5 at the Coney Island venue. 

To be sure, Chestnut is a lock to win a 16th Mustard Yellow International Belt – cementing his status as not only a legendary athlete but also quite simply a legendary man. 

“When the barren hills and the cracked earth and the once-proud oceans drain to sand, there will still be a monument to our existence,” contest host George Shea declared to the masses who attended the 2022 weigh-in. “This man represents all that is eternal in the human spirit.” 

Truer words have never been spoken…but there is still too much value on the under. 

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Winner without Joey Chestnut: Nick Wehry (+350)

Is there value on Wehry at +350 to be the top finisher other than Chestnut? I think so. In just his fourth year of competitive eating, the Connecticut native finished in third place behind Chestnut and Geoffrey Esper. With another season of competition under his belt (will it be his Mustard Yellow International Belt?!?!), Wehry looks poised to be even better in 2023.

What’s worth noting is that the 34-year-old took down Chestnut in a pistachio eating contest this February, consuming 109 in 8 minutes. I appreciate that pistachios are nothing like hotdogs, but the bottom line is that this guy can eat. Esper is not getting any younger at 48 years old, so I think he’s ripe for an upset.

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