Over the past 16 years, Joey Chestnut has chomped his way into hearts across the nation as America’s beloved world record–setting, hot dog–eating champion, but are the dogs doing him dirty?

This week, University of Michigan researchers revealed that each hot dog a person eats could take 36 minutes off of their life. Needless to say, Chestnut’s really racking up the hours, and the internet is concerned.

The study sent Twitter abuzz with speculation on the status of Chestnut’s health, with tweets ranging from hailing him as a scientific marvel to speculation, with sportswriter Jay Jaffe tweeting, “If this were true Joey Chestnut would have been dead in 1873.”

Au contraire, Jay Jaffe. According to Chestnut, his average annual hot dog consumption sits somewhere around a cool 1,200 weenies for the past 16 years. If you’re not into doing quick math, that’s 19,200 hot dogs—or one year and 115 days of potentially lost time on this mortal plane.

That also means that his record-breaking Fourth of July feat of devouring 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes took just under 2 days off his life—a small price to pay for footlong fame and fortune?

Fret not, Joey Chestnut fandom; there is hope for our favorite eater yet! Though hot dogs do knock some time off life, the study’s authors evaluated more than 5,800 other foods, with plenty of them resulting in added minutes.

Frankly, the foods listed with hot dogs as life-shorteners shouldn’t come as a surprise, with soft drinks costing 12.4 minutes, pizza losing a delicious 7.8 minutes, and burgers — another of Chestnut’s competitive eating specialties — averaging 7 minutes of lost time.

If Chestnut plays his cards—and his diet—right, he can reverse any damage done by his hazardous career by spending his downtime snacking on beneficial foods like tomatoes, which add 3.8 minutes, bananas (13.5 minutes), and nuts (26 minutes). He could even pivot to PB&J competitions since they really rake in the spare time at 33 minutes each!

It appears that Chestnut, who sticks to grilled chicken and protein shakes in the off-season, is fully aware of the risk he takes with each competition, but he maintains that he’s got it all under control.

“The only way I can continue doing it is by being healthy,” said Chestnut, 37. “If I start gaining weight and start having issues with my body, then I won’t be able to push my body.”

As for whether he takes much stock in the new research, he pointed out that eating healthy food isn’t the only measurement of a healthy person but did tweet that he “might need to eat more nuts to get time back.”

By Meghan Yani, contributor for Ripleys.com


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