On a day full of American traditions, the Fourth of July is home to one of the most American of them all: The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, in which contestants engorge themselves on an absurd amount of hot dogs for 10 minutes.
The competition has become the annual Joey Chestnut Showcase. He beat last year's runner-up by 26 hot dogs, choking down a record 76 while Geoffrey Esper finished with 50.
At a certain point, people have to make the decision if it's worth it for them. Getting paid to eat doesn't sound terrible on the surface, but getting paid to eat at that rate cannot possibly feel good.
Business decisions must be made, but Chestnut has made competitive eating his business. For Chestnut, at this point, it's about bragging rights and building on his legacy.
MORE: What happens to Joey Chestnut's body after the Hot Dog Eating Contest?
But while taking home a belt is nice, leaving with a check is even better. The winners — and each of the top five finishers — will take home money in the annual July 4 contest.
Below is all you need to know about the prize money for the 2022 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest prize money
Major League Eating has typically given winners in the men's and women's competition a top prize of $10,000 each, with incrementally smaller prizes going to the remaining eaters in the top five.
The total prize pool is $40,000. Here is how the purse has traditionally broken down:
- First place: $10,000
- Second place: $5,000
- Third place: $2,500
- Fourth place: $1,500
- Fifth place: $1,000
For the men, Chestnut will be trying to defend his title, whereas Michelle Lesco is defending her title for the first time after Miki Sudo missed the contest last year.
What is Joey Chestnut's net worth?
Chestnut is perhaps the only person on Earth who has made competitive eating a viable lifestyle.
The 14-time winner of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest — not to mention countless other Major League Eating competitions — has a net worth of $2 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. According to the site, he can make between $250,000 and $500,000 per year from winning competitions and subsequent sponsorship deals.
In addition to his winnings and sponsor money, Chestnut has his own line of condiments for hot dogs, brats, sausages, wings and sandwiches.
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest past winners
Chestnut set a record at the 2021 event with 76 hot dogs, while six-time defending champion Sudo didn't compete as she awaited the birth of her child and was unseated by Lesco in the women's division.
Chestnut will be back on Coney Island in 2022 to try to win for the seventh consecutive year, while Sudo will be back on stage this year as well.
Below are the contest winners dating to 1997.Year Winner Hot dogs eaten Time 2021 men's Joey Chestnut 76 10 mins. 2021 women's Michelle Lesco 30.75 2020 men's Joey Chestnut 75 10 mins. 2020 women's Miki Sudo 48.5 2019 men's Joey Chestnut 71 10 mins. 2019 women's Miki Sudo 31 2018 men's Joey Chestnut 74 10 mins. 2018 women's Miki Sudo 37 2017 men's Joey Chestnut 72 10 mins. 2017 women's Miki Sudo 41 2016 men's Joey Chestnut 70 10 mins. 2016 women's Miki Sudo 38.5 2015 men's Matt Stonie 62 10 mins. 2015 women's Miki Sudo 38 2014 men's Joey Chestnut 61 10 mins. 2014 women's Miki Sudo 34 2013 men's Joey Chestnut 69 10 mins. 2013 women's Sonya Thomas 36.75 2012 men's Joey Chestnut 68 10 mins. 2012 women's Sonya Thomas 45 2011 men's Joey Chestnut 62 10 mins. 2011 women's Sonya Thomas 40 2010 Joey Chestnut 54 10 mins. 2009 Joey Chestnut 68 10 mins. 2008 Joey Chestnut 59 10 mins. 2007 Joey Chestnut 66 12 mins. 2006 Takeru Kobayashi 53.75 12 mins. 2005 Takeru Kobayashi 49 12 mins. 2004 Takeru Kobayashi 53.5 12 mins. 2003 Takeru Kobayashi 44.5 12 mins. 2002 Takeru Kobayashi 50.5 12 mins. 2001 Takeru Kobayashi 50 12 mins 2000 Kazutoyo Arai 25 12 mins. 1999 Steve Keiner 21.5 12 mins. 1998 Hirofumi Nakajima 19 12 mins. 1997 Hirofumi Nakajima 24.5 12 mins.